Marriage-Based Immigration - Financial Requirements : Canada vs US

Marriage-Based Immigration - Financial Requirements : Canada vs US

For couples considering immigrating to Canada or the US, one of the considerations is financial because Canada and the US have different financial requirements. This article will discuss an overview of the main differences between them. 

Canada - What are the minimum financial requirements that I need to sponsor my spouse? 

When you are looking to sponsor your spouse to Canada, you must prove that you have sufficient income to support them and that you will not need to rely on social assistance once they arrive. However,  you do not need to meet any specific number or clear the Low-Income Cut-off, like you would if you had to sponsor other members of the family class (eg. parents, grandparents). 

Example of minimum income requirements for other members of the family class: 

Although these numbers are not applied when sponsoring a spouse, these numbers are helpful to keep in mind because it gives a good idea of the numbers the government believes are necessary per family size. If your income is below this number, you may still be eligible to sponsor your spouse, but it will be important for you to show how you plan on supporting your spouse. 

Our firm has successfully helped couples navigate this issue on a number of occasions. Examples of how we have addressed this includes showing the couples living expenses, and how they plan on meeting those with their current income. We have also provided detailed income information for the person being sponsored, even though typically not required, to show that this person will be able to be self-sufficient without government assistance.  

US - What are the minimum Financial Requirements for Affidavit of Support - Marriage Green Card? 

Part of the marriage green card process involves form I-864, Affidavit of Support which is a contractual commitment of the sponsor or person signing it to financially support the intending immigrant. This is a legally binding contract. 

If you do not meet the needs of the person you sponsored, such that they then access means-tested public benefits, you are then responsible for repaying those costs to the agency that provided them. 

You must show that your household income is equal to or higher than 125% of the U.S. poverty level for your household size. (Your household size includes you, your dependents, any relatives living with you, and the immigrants you are sponsoring.)

If you, the sponsor, are on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States, and the immigrant you are sponsoring is your spouse or child, your income only needs to equal 100% of the U.S. poverty level for your household size.

You can meet the required amounts using income or assets. 

Example of what these amounts are in 2023:

US - How long is the financial responsibility after a marriage petition green card? 

Typically, the length is when your spouse becomes a US citizen, or is credited with 40 quarters of work (usually 10 years). It also ends if the individual sponsored dies or ceases to be a lawful permanent resident and departs from the United States. Please note that divorce does NOT end this financial obligation. 

Canada - What is the financial responsibility of the Canadian Sponsor after sponsorship?

Part of the spousal sponsorship process involves the sponsor signing a legally binding contract with the government where the sponsor accepts financial responsibility for the basic needs of the principal applicant spouse. Basic needs include food, clothing, shelter, and other needs for everyday living. They also include dental care, eye care, and other health needs that are not covered by public health services. If your spouse ends up needing these basic needs met by the government, the government will go after you, as the Canadian sponsor, for repayment. This commitment remains for the length of the undertaking period EVEN IF: 

  • The person becomes a Canadian citizen 
  • You become divorced, separated, or if the relationship breaks down 
  • You or the person you sponsor move to another country or province 
  • You have financial problems 

You can only cancel your financial undertaking BEFORE a final decision is made on your spousal sponsorship application. To do so, you must withdraw you application prior to it being finalized. 

Canada - How long is the financial responsibility after spousal sponsorship? 

For sponsorships in all parts of Canada, except for Quebec, the length of undertakings for spouses is 3 years from the date your spouse or common-law partner becomes a permanent resident. 

How can we help? 

While both Canada and the United States offer marriage-based immigration options, there are significant differences in eligibility criteria, application processes, processing times, and the rights and responsibilities of the immigrant spouse. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for making the right choice. If you want professional assistance in evaluating your options and pros and cons of each option, please book a strategy session with us.

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