USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) recently released an update to the 2019 poverty level income guidelines. Understanding what this information can mean to your application to sponsor a family member for entry into the US is vital to the success of your application.
The USCIS is an agency of the United States government that is tasked with overseeing the lawful entry of immigrants into the United States.
If You Are a Sponsor You Need to Know This
There are many scenarios where a citizen of the United States or a permanent resident of the United States will “sponsor” another individual to allow legal entry into the US. There are different categories of family members that can be brought in depending on your status. For example, a US Citizen has more “leeway” when it comes to who they can sponsor compared to a permanent resident (green card holder).
In most cases, the person that you are petitioning to bring to the US must be an immediate family member including:
- Your spouse
- Your brother or sister
- Your child (unmarried children if your status is “permanent Green card holder”). You are permitted to petition for married children if you are a US Citizen.
- Your Parents
You will notice from the list above that extended family members are excluded from this program. Extended family members include grandparents, in-laws, cousins, and other family members that are not considered immediate family members.
As a “petitioner” or “sponsor” you will need to meet certain income requirements to assure the United States government that the person you are sponsoring will not become reliant on state-sponsored services. The Affidavit of Support (USCIS form I-864) is your validation that you have enough income to provide support for the person you are sponsoring.
The Affidavit of Support
The US government wants assurance that if they allow your family member to enter the US that they will not need support from the US government to live. The Affidavit of Support is a legal contract that attests to the fact that your income is enough to support your family member if you need to. The Affidavit of Support is a contract between you and the United States government.
The USCIS uses a formula to determine your ability to support your family member. There have been some new standards for 2019 that affect the Affidavit Support. The key change has been the USCIS poverty guidelines.
What Are the Income Standards?
According to the USCIS for you to be a valid sponsor your income must be 125% above the poverty level standards for a family your size NOT including the person you are trying to sponsor. Your income standard is determined by including everyone that is dependent on you for support.
If you are a military member or a citizen residing in Alaska or Hawaii, your income must be 100% above the poverty level. According to the USCIS this chart reflects the new USCIS poverty guidelines:
Sponsor’s Household Size 100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines* 125% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*
2 $16,910 $21,137
3 $21,330 $26,662
4 $25,750 $32,187
5 $30,170 $37,712
6 $34,590 $43,237
7 $39,010 $48,762
8 $43,430 $54,287
Add $4,420 for each additional person Add $5,525 for each additional person
What Do the Changes Mean to You as a Petitioner?
The USCIS often changes requirements including income requirements to match the cost of living changes in the US. In 2018 a sponsor with two children and a wife would have to be able to prove an income of around $31,375, in 2019 the same sponsor with the same circumstances will have to prove an income of $32,187.
In other words, you will have to earn more income this year than you have had to in previous years.
While the difference in income is not that great, it could be enough to stall a petition if it is not met. If you cannot meet the income requirements, there is a strong possibility that your family member will be denied entry into the US.
The USCIS is taking a closer look at these affidavits and considering income much more seriously than they ever have. It is critical to the success of your petition that you can meet all the requirements set forth in the regulations.
One error on your petition can mean months of delays. Get professional help in filling out all your petition forms to ensure you do not miss anything!