Financial Requirements to Get a DV Lottery Green Card

Visa lottery winners must prove that they are not inadmissible to the United States. One of the grounds of inadmissibility is that the person is likely to become a public charge (depend primarily on government assistance based on financial need).

By , J.D. · University of Washington School of Law

Before a diversity visa lottery winner can be approved for a green card (U.S. lawful permanent residence), applicants must prove that they are not inadmissible to the United States. One of the grounds of inadmissibility is that the person is likely to become a public charge (depend on government assistance based on low income and financial need). (See I.N.A. Section 212(a)(4).) To overcome this ground of inadmissibility, diversity visa lottery winners will need to provide documentary evidence that they have an available means of financial support, as described below.

For a general overview of the application process, see Green Card Application Process After Winning The DV Lottery.

How Would-Be Immigrant Can Show Sources of Income or Support

The immigrant should attempt to show some combination of ownership of property and assets, a job offer in the United States, or that the immigrant is already living legally in the United States with a job that pays a sufficient income, in order to overcome the public charge ground of inadmissibility.

For example, one might submit any of the following types of evidence:

  • a job offer letter from a U.S. employer, or pay stubs from existing employment in the United States
  • copies of bank statements showing current balance, or preferably a bank statement showing annual deposits and withdrawals as well as current balance, and how the money will be transferred to the United States
  • copies of land deeds or other evidence of real estate ownership, along with any mortgage statements showing the amount of remaining debt
  • copies of documents showing ownership of insurance policies, or
  • evidence of other income, such as from investments or royalties.

Having a U.S.-Based Sponsor Sign Form I-134 Affidavit of Support

If the would-be immigrant's sources of financial support are not sufficient on their own, one possibility is to find a U.S. sponsor to fill out an Affidavit of Support on Form I-134, issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Download Form I-134 and instructions from the USCIS website.

(Note: Although Form I-134 is usually reserved for use with temporary visas, and the Form I-864 is usually used with applications for green cards, the DV lottery visa application process uses Form I-134.)

Form I-134 must be filled out by someone who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. The person need not be a family member, but should have a close enough relationship with the intending immigrant that U.S. immigration authorities will be convinced that the sponsor will make sure the immigrant will not need to apply for public assistance or welfare for up to three years after becoming a U.S. permanent resident.

Whoever fills out Form I-134 will need to attach documents to show that the information contained in the form is true. These should include, where applicable:

  • a copy of the sponsor's most recent federal income taxes (with W-2s) showing income
  • a statement from the bank, with details about accounts including the date opened, the total amount deposited for the past year, and present balance, and
  • a letter from the employer, verifying current employment, job title, salary, and whether the position is permanent.

Also attach a copy of whatever document best shows the immigration status of the person signing the Form I-134, such as a U.S. passport or green card.

See I-134 Affidavit of Support: Instructions & Tips for Sponsors for more on completing this form.

U.S. Government Guidelines on Income and Asset Levels

How much is enough?

For starters, the would-be immigrant or sponsor's income, or assets (which must be convertible to cash within one year) must be enough to support the immigrant (as well as the sponsor's own household) at the level of at least 100% of the current Poverty Guidelines. For the current guidelines, go to the USCIS page for "Form I-864P."

If family members are immigrating through the DV winner as derivatives, they must also be listed on the Form I-134. And, the income and assets listed on Form I-134 must be enough to cover them, too.

Extent of the U.S. Sponsor's Financial Obligation

When you ask a family member or friend to sign an Affidavit of Support on your behalf, that person will want to know the legal extent of the financial obligations that come with it. A full explanation is provided in USCIS's online Instructions to Form I-134.

The signers do not promise to support the immigrant. What they do agree to do is to reimburse the U.S. government if the immigrant obtains certain financial benefits by fraud, that is, by misrepresenting income, immigration status, or the income of the Form I-134 signer. The Affidavit of Support promise lasts for three years. After that, the responsibility of the signer of the Affidavit of Support comes to an end.

Getting Legal Help

An experienced attorney can analyze your immigration prospects, assess any issues with financial support obligations, and help prepare the paperwork and keep the case on track.

Talk to an Immigration attorney.
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