2023 Poverty Guideline: Impacts on Affidavits of Support

Each year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for setting federal poverty guidelines, which are used to determine whether an individual or family qualifies for certain government benefits. These guidelines are important in the immigration context, particularly with respect to family sponsorship and affidavits of support. The HHS has issued the 2023 poverty guidelines in the Federal Register, which became effective as of January 19, 2023.

Public Charge Provisions

The federal poverty guidelines are utilized in the immigration context when determining the sufficiency of income in connection with the affidavit of support (form I-864). This form is required, with limited exceptions, in family-based immigration cases. It is also required in some employment-based cases.

The purpose of the I-864 is to protect U.S. taxpayers financially. The petitioner must establish that s/he has sufficient means to ensure that the beneficiary family member will not become a public charge, in need of government support. By signing the I-864, the petitioner contracts to be financially liable to the government if the sponsored family member collects certain types of means-tested public benefits (e.g., food stamps).

Affidavit of Support: 125% of Poverty Guideline

The U.S. citizen (USC) or lawful permanent resident (LPR) who wishes to sponsor a family member for permanent residence must demonstrate income at a level equal to or above 125 percent of the federal poverty guideline level. The exact income required on the form I-864 form varies based on the number of sponsored family members, the number of other dependents, and ongoing obligations under any previously filed I-864s. These guidelines are modified annually, based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U).

Options if Sponsoring Relative Cannot Meet the Poverty Guidelines

If the sponsor does not have a sufficient annual income, there are alternatives for meeting the I-864 requirements. For example, when sponsoring one’s spouse, it may be possible to include the income of the sponsored spouse to evidence that the income criteria has been met, assuming this income will continue after the beneficiary becomes a permanent resident. Another common option is using joint financial sponsors who are USCs or LPRs who can establish sufficient income levels. It also is potentially possible to rely upon certain assets in lieu of income.

Poverty Guidelines: 3 Charts

There are three separate poverty guideline charts each year. One chart sets out the guidelines for the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia. The second and third charts are for Alaska and Hawaii, respectively. The 2023 Poverty Guidelines are available online. The requirement for the affidavit of support is 125 percent of the poverty line guidelines.

Poverty Line for the 48 Contiguous States plus D.C.

Size of Family UnitPoverty Guideline
1$ 14,580
2$ 19,720
3$ 24,860
4$ 30,000
5$ 35,140
6$ 40,280
7$ 45,420
8$ 50,560

For families or households with more than 8 people, add $4,320 for each additional person.


Size of Family UnitPoverty Guideline
1$ 15,180
2$ 20,580
3$ 25,980
4$ 31,380
5$ 36,780
6$ 42,180
7$ 47,580
8$ 52,980

For families or households with more than 8 people, add $5,400 for each additional person.


Size of Family UnitPoverty Guideline
1$ 13,960
2$ 18,930
3$ 23,900
4$ 28,870
5$ 33,840
6$ 38,810
7$ 43,780
8$ 48,750

For families or households with more than 8 people, add $4,970 for each additional person.


While many petitioners can easily demonstrate an income in excess of 125 percent of the poverty guidelines, the matter is not always straightforward. This is particularly the case when the petitioner is not actually the source of most of the sponsored family member’s financial support. As mentioned above, there are a variety of alternatives that are available to meet I-864 requirements. Individuals who are facing uncertainties and have questions about this important aspect of the green card process should seek case-specific legal advice.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.