A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration attorney and counsel. Contact Info: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/ (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

2019 Poverty Guidelines for Affidavit of Support (I-864)

Every year, USCIS publishes the most current income requirements for completing the I-864 Affidavit of Support for immigrant petitions. These guidelines are based on the current poverty guidelines published by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  


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To support an intending immigrant and his/her family members, the sponsor(s) must generally show that their income level is above 125% of the U.S. poverty line for the family unit.  For example, as shown by the 2019 guidelines below, for an immigrant family of 2, the sponsor's income must be at least $21,138 in most states and U.S. territories except Alaska and Hawaii, which have higher income requirements.

Size of Household
48 Contiguous States,D.C., U.S. Virgin Islands,Guam & CNMI
Alaska
Hawaii
125% of Poverty Line (U.S. dollars)
2
21,138
26,413
      24,325
3
26,663
33,325
      30,675
4
32,188
40,238
      37,025
5
37,713
47,150
      43,375
6
43,238
54,063
      49,725
7
48,763
60,975
      56,075
8
54,288
67,888
      62,425
Add $4,420 for each additional person
Add $5,530 for each additional person
Add $5,080 for each additional person


If the financial sponsors' income level is below the guidelines, the intending immigrant may be found to be inadmissible to the United States as a "public charge."  Section 212(a)(4) of Immigration Act requires that family-based immigrants and the dependents of an employment-based immigrant must prove that they will not likely become a financial burden (public charge) to the U.S. society.

Normally, the petitioner must act as the sponsor in the I-864 form.  If the petitioner's income level is insufficient, a joint sponsor may provide additional financial support.  Both petitioner and the beneficiary may also use their assets such as real estate, stocks, bonds, cash, etc., to meet the I-864 requirements. 

The requirements regarding financial support have been tightened recently. A rule proposed in October 2018 wants to subject the beneficiary to a comprehensive review, which judges if the person will likely be a public charge. DHS would examine age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education, employment history and skills. In addition, DHS will also look into the beneficiary's history regarding use of public assistance programs (e.g. Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid) in the past three years as well as in the present.  The proposal has not been finalized yet but the more restrictive policy may still be applied in individual cases. Intending immigrants must pay attention to make sure that they are not considered a "public charge." 

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