2005 Poverty Guidelines

What is an Affidavit of Support?
If you are sponsoring a relative to live permanently in the United States, you must accept legal responsibility for financially supporting this family member. You accept this responsibility and become your relative's sponsor by completing and signing a document called an affidavit of support. This legally enforceable responsibility lasts until your relative becomes a U.S. citizen or can be credited with 40 quarters of work (usually 10 years.)

For Whom is an Affidavit of Support Required?
You must complete and submit an affidavit of support, Form I-864, if you are bringing a relative to the United States. It is required for all immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (which include parents, spouses, and unmarried children under the age of 21, including orphans) and relatives who qualify for immigration to the United States under one of the family-based preferences. Also, you must submit if you are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and filed an employment-based immigration petition for a relative or if you have a significant ownership interest (5 percent or more) in a business that filed an employment-based immigrant petition for your relative.

Persons whom the CIS has approved as self-petitioning widows or widowers or battered spouses and children are exempt from this requirement. 

All relatives for whom you file a separate I-130 or I-140 petition must have an original affidavit of support and accompanying documentation. You may submit photocopies of the affidavit of support you complete for your relative for any spouse or children immigrating with your relative and listed on the petition. You do not need to photocopy the accompanying documentation for these family members.

Some other types of aliens, including parolees, students, and diversity immigrants are not sponsored so they use a different affidavit of support (Form I-134) at the consulate abroad.    Back To Top

Who is Required to Be a Sponsor?
If you filed an immigrant visa petition for your relative, you must be the sponsor. You must also be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident. You must have a domicile in the United States or a territory or possession of the United States. Usually, this requirement means you must actually live in the United States, or a territory or possession, in order to be a sponsor. If you live abroad, you may still be eligible to be a sponsor if you can show that your residence abroad is temporary, so that you still have your domicile in the United States.  
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Can anyone else be a sponsor?
INA section 213A permits both a "joint sponsor" and a "substitute sponsor" in certain cases.  If the visa petitioner's household income is not sufficient to meet the financial requirements a joint sponsor can sign an affidavit of support, in addition to the affidavit of support signed by the visa petitioner. A joint sponsor is someone who is willing to accept legal responsibility for supporting your family member with you. A joint sponsor must meet all the same requirements as you, except the joint sponsor does not need to be related to the immigrant. The joint sponsor (or the joint sponsor and his or her household) must reach the 125 percent income requirement alone. You cannot combine your income with that of a joint sponsor to meet the income requirement.

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What are the income requirements for an Affidavit of Support?
You also must meet certain income requirements (whether you are a sponsor, a joint sponsor, or a substitute sponsor). You must show that your household income is equal to or higher than 125 percent of the U.S. poverty level for your household size (See table below.) Your household size includes you, your dependents, any relatives living with you, and the immigrants you are sponsoring. For example, if you have a spouse and two children and you want to sponsor your brother and his wife, you must prove that your household income is equal to or higher than 125 percent of the U.S. poverty level for a family of six, or $31,512, from the table below. You must also include in your household size any immigrants you have previously sponsored under this part of the law. In the above example, if you had previously sponsored your parents and your sister, your household size would be nine persons and you would need a household income of $43,387 ($39,462 + $3,925).
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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 percent of the U.S. poverty level for your family size.


For the 48 Contiguous States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam:
Sponsor's Household Size 100% Poverty Line 125% Poverty Line
1  $  9,571.00  $        11,963.75
2  $12,830.00  $        16,037.50
3  $16,090.00  $        20,112.50
4  $19,350.00  $        24,187.50
5  $22,610.00  $        28,262.50
6  $25,870.00  $        32,337.50
7  $29,130.00  $        36,412.50
8  $32,390.00  $        40,487.50
  Add $3,260 for each additional person Add $4,075 for each additional person
For Alaska:
Sponsor's Household Size 100% Poverty Line 125% Poverty Line
1  $11,950.00  $        14,937.50
2  $16,030.00  $        20,037.50
3  $20,110.00  $        25,137.50
4  $24,190.00  $        30,237.50
5  $28,270.00  $        35,337.50
6  $32,350.00  $        40,437.50
7  $36,430.00  $        45,537.50
8  $40,510.00  $        50,637.50
  Add $4,080 for each additional person Add $5,100 for each additional person
For Hawaii:
Sponsor's Household Size 100% Poverty Line 125% Poverty Line
1  $11,010.00  $        13,762.50
2  $14,760.00  $        18,450.00
3  $18,510.00  $        23,137.50
4  $22,260.00  $        27,825.00
5  $26,010.00  $        32,512.50
6  $29,760.00  $        37,200.00
7  $33,510.00  $        41,887.50
8  $37,260.00  $        46,575.00
  Add $3,750 for each additional person Add $4,687 for each additional person

These poverty guidelines remain in effect for use with the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support from Spring of 2005.

If you cannot meet the minimum income requirements using your earned income, you have various options:

  • You may add the cash value of your assets such as money in savings accounts, stocks, bonds, and property. To determine the amount of assets required to qualify, subtract your household income from the minimum income requirement (125 percent of the poverty level for your family size). You must prove the cash value of your assets is worth five times this difference (the amount left over).

    Example for a household size of 4:

 125 percent of 2005 poverty guideline


sponsor's income




Multiply by 5

       x 5

Minimum Required Cash Value of Assets


  • You may count the income and assets of members of your household who are related to you by birth, marriage, or adoption. To use their income you must have listed them as dependents on your most recent federal tax return or they must have lived with you for the last 6 months. They must also complete a Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member.  If the relative you are sponsoring meets these criteria you may include the value of their income and assets, but the immigrant does not need to complete Form I-864A unless he or she has accompanying family members.
  • You may count the assets of the relatives you are sponsoring.     Back To Top
What are My Responsibilities as a Sponsor?
When you sign the Affidavit of Support, you accept legal responsibility for financially supporting the sponsored immigrant(s) until they become U.S. citizens or can be credited with 40 quarters of work. Any joint sponsors or household members whose income is used to meet the minimum income requirements are also legally responsible for financially supporting the sponsored immigrant. If the immigrant receives any "means-tested public benefits," you are responsible for repaying the cost of those benefits to the agency that provided them. If you do not repay the debt, the agency can sue you in court to get the money owed. When in doubt, ask the benefit provider whether the benefit is a "means-tested public benefit."

Currently, Federal means-tested public benefits include Food Stamps, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the State Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP). States and local jurisdictions may also designate certain of their programs as means-tested public benefits.

The following types of programs are not counted as means-tested public benefits: emergency Medicaid; short-term, non-cash emergency relief; services provided under the National School Lunch and Child Nutrition Acts; immunizations and testing and treatment for communicable diseases; student assistance under the Higher Education Act and the Public Health Service Act; certain forms of foster-care or adoption assistance under the Social Security Act; Head Start programs; means-tested programs under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; and Job Training Partnership Act programs.

What if my address changes?    If you change your address after you become a sponsor, you are required by law to notify the USCIS within 30 days by filing CIS Form I-865, Sponsor's Notice of Change of Address. If you fail to notify the USCIS of your change of address, you may be fined.     Back To Top