DOS Establishes Timeline for 2015 Poverty Guidelines

When processing immigrant visa cases subject to the Affidavit of Support Form I-864 requirement, consular posts must use the numbers representing 125 percent of poverty guidelines as the minimum income that a petitioner and/or joint sponsor must demonstrate, or 100 percent for an active member of the U.S. Armed Forces sponsoring his or her spouse or children. Separate poverty guideline figures for Alaska and Hawaii replicate Office of Economic Opportunity administrative practice beginning in the 1966-1970 period. The poverty guidelines do not make a distinction between farm and non-farm families, or between aged and non-aged units.

On March 6, 2015, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) issued a cable on the 2015 poverty guidelines for immigrant visa processing, indicating that consular posts should use the 2015 guidelines to review Forms I-864 and I-864EZ submitted on or after March 1, 2015. If a form was filed prior to that date, posts must consider the guidelines that were in effect at the time of submission. These poverty guidelines remain in effect for use with Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, from March 1, 2015, until the new guidelines go into effect in 2016.

The Department of Health and Human Services annually updates the poverty guidelines. On January 22, 2015, HHS published its annual updates of the poverty guidelines adjusting them on the basis of the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers.  The guidelines in this 2015 notice reflect the 1.6 percent price increase between calendar years 2013 and 2014.  The guidelines are rounded and adjusted to standardize the differences between family sizes. The same calculation procedure was used this year as in previous years. The poverty guidelines continue to be derived from the Census Bureau’s current official poverty threshold; they are not derived from the Census Bureau’s new Supplemental Poverty Measures.

A large percentage of cases pending with DOS receive requests for further evidence related to the Affidavit of Support, which can result in significant delays until an individual may receive an immigrant visa. It is not recommended for individuals to complete the Affidavit of Support without the help of experienced immigration counsel.

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