Guide to the USCIS Poverty Guidelines

Updated on April 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • The Poverty Guidelines are income thresholds set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for USCIS applications.
  • Sponsors of immigration applicants must meet specific income requirements based on household size, with variations for Alaska and Hawaii.
  • Income must be at least 100% or 125% above the guideline level, depending on the type of application.
  • These guidelines are utilized on forms like I-864 for green card applications and I-134 for non-immigrant visas.

USCIS Poverty Guidelines are a set of household income levels set by the U.S. federal government. These values are used in applications for permanent resident (green card) status. The U.S. resident sponsoring a non-U.S. citizen’s green card application must have an income level that is higher than the poverty guideline in their state. If this seems confusing, read on for a more detailed explanation of the USCIS Poverty Guidelines.

What are Poverty Guidelines?

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is the U.S. government agency responsible for processing and handling citizenship issues in the United States.

This agency decides on applications for long and short-term non-immigrant visas. It also processes applications for permanent resident status, known as green card applications.

Part of the USCIS application process requires the person applying to have a sponsor who is a U.S. resident. The sponsor agrees to take on responsibility for the applicant’s well-being when they are in the U.S.

To meet this responsibility, the sponsor must have the economic resources to support the applicant. In other words, the sponsor must have enough money to support the applicant financially when they arrive in the U.S.

The Federal Poverty Guidelines are used by the USCIS as a way of categorizing household income per person in the household. The Guidelines state a minimum required income for the household for a given number of members of the household from 2 to 8 and above.

For most people sponsoring a green card application, your household income must be at least 125% above the Guideline income for your given size of household.

However, for members of the armed forces who are on active duty, this requirement is reduced to 100% of the Guideline income level.

For sponsoring non-immigrant visas, such as the K-1 spousal visa, the requirement is 100% of the Guideline income for all sponsors.

How to Use the Poverty Guidelines

The Federal Poverty Guidelines are used when declaring income on an Affidavit of Support for various types of USCIS applications.

For Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

On Form I-864, you declare your income in support of a permanent resident (green card) application. You must demonstrate an income of 125% of the Federal Poverty Guideline for your household size. If you are on active duty in the armed forces, this requirement is reduced to 100%.

For Form I-134, Affidavit of Support

Form I-134 is where you declare your income in support of a non-immigrant visa application. An example of this would be a K-1 type spousal visa application. You must demonstrate an income of 100% of the Federal Poverty Guideline. This is the case whether you are in the military or not.

2024 Federal Poverty Guidelines

The Federal Poverty Guidelines were developed and are updated regularly by a federal government body called the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Federal Poverty Guidelines help various federal, state, and local agencies determine the financial position of households. In other words, the Federal Poverty Guidelines help to put a dollar amount on determining whether a household is in poverty or not.

The two main determining factors are:

  • Size of household: supporting more people in a household requires more money.
  • Location of household: the cost of necessities like food, housing, and transport determines the cost of living in an area.

Standard Chart

The average cost of living in the contiguous United States (sometimes called the lower 48) varies from state to state. However, the differences are small enough that for the states on the mainland, you can use a standard set of values.

The table below shows the USCIS Poverty Guidelines Standard Chart:

Sponsor’s Household Size100% of FPG125% of FPG
2$17,240$21,775
3$21,960$27,450
4$26,500$33,125
5$31,040$38,800
6$35,580$44,475
7$40,120$50,150
8$44,660$55,825
Each additional personAdd $4,540Add $5,675

For geographic and other reasons, the average cost of living in the states of Alaska and Hawaii is significantly higher than in the other states. Thus the HHS has specific Poverty Guidelines that apply to these states.

Alaska

The table below shows the USCIS Poverty Guidelines for Alaska.

Sponsor’s Household Size100% of FPG125% of FPG
2$21,770$27,212
3$27,450$34,312
4$33,130$41,412
5$38,810$48,512
6$44,490$55,612
7$50,170$62,712
8$55,850$69,812
Each additional personAdd $5,680Add $7,100

Hawaii

The table below shows the USCIS Poverty Guidelines for Hawaii.

Sponsor’s Household Size100% of FPG125% of FPG
2$20,040$25,050
3$25,260$31,575
4$30,480$38,100
5$35,700$44,625
6$40,920$51,150
7$46,140$57,675
8$51,360$64,200
Each additional personAdd $5,220Add $6,525

Federal Poverty Guidelines Examples

To illustrate the use of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for sponsoring a USCIS immigration application, here are some examples.

K-1 Sponsor

The K-1 visa is a fiancé visa. A U.S. resident sponsors a K-1 visa with their fiancé who is a foreign citizen. Once their fiancé arrives, the couple has a set period (usually 90 days) to get married. Once they are married, the non-U.S. citizen can apply for permanent resident (green card) status by marriage. The sponsor must show that they have the means to support their fiancé from when they arrive in the U.S.

Andrew lives in Utah and wants to sponsor his Guatemalan fiancé Laura’s application for a K-1 visa. Andrew lives with his mother, younger sister, and his two children. He makes $50,000 a year and is the only one in the household who is employed. Andrew must file an I-134 Affidavit of Support for Laura’s visa application.

Andrew must demonstrate an income level of 100% of the guideline amount for his household size of 6. At $50,000, Andrew’s income is well above the $35,580 required, which helps the chances of a successful application.

Green Card Sponsor

Sarah is a U.S. citizen living in Maui, Hawaii. She would like to bring her mother closer to her from where she is in their native country of France. Sarah lives alone and makes $25,000 a year in the Navy. Sarah needs to demonstrate an income of 100% of the Federal Poverty Guideline for a household size of 2 in the state of Hawaii.

When filling in an I-864 Affidavit of Support for her mother’s green card application, Sarah can demonstrate that she makes more than the requirement of $20,040.

Read More

Final Thoughts

The USCIS Poverty Guidelines are a set of household income levels that are used by the USCIS in immigration applications. They determine the minimum income levels that a sponsor must have to support a non-U.S. citizen’s immigration application. The income requirement to sponsor a green card application is lower for members of the armed forces on active duty. The income requirement for a non-immigrant visa is 100% of the Guideline amount for all sponsors.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the USCIS Poverty Guidelines?

USCIS Poverty Guidelines are the income thresholds used to determine eligibility for certain immigration benefits.

How often are USCIS Poverty Guidelines updated?

USCIS Poverty Guidelines are typically updated annually.

Where can I find the current USCIS Poverty Guidelines?

You can find the current USCIS Poverty Guidelines on the official USCIS website.

Do USCIS Poverty Guidelines vary by household size?

Yes, USCIS Poverty Guidelines take into account the number of people in a household when determining eligibility.

Are USCIS Poverty Guidelines the same nationwide?

No, USCIS Poverty Guidelines may vary slightly depending on the location and household size.

How are USCIS Poverty Guidelines used in immigration applications?

USCIS Poverty Guidelines are used to determine whether an applicant meets the income requirements for certain immigration benefits.

Can I sponsor a family member if my income is below the USCIS Poverty Guidelines?

Sponsorship requirements go beyond meeting the income thresholds. Other factors, such as the ability to provide financial support, may also be considered.

Are USCIS Poverty Guidelines used for all immigration applications?

No, USCIS Poverty Guidelines are specific to certain immigration benefits and applications.

Where can I get more information about USCIS Poverty Guidelines?

For more information about USCIS Poverty Guidelines, you can visit the official USCIS website or consult with an immigration attorney.

How can I calculate my household income to compare with USCIS Poverty Guidelines?

To calculate your household income, you should consider all sources of income and the number of people in your household. Consulting with a financial advisor may be helpful.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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