Applying for Fee Waivers from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Applying for Fee Waivers from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
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Last updated: August 2015

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the federal agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States. The agency is a component of the Department of Homeland Security.

When a person files an application or a petition for an immigration process with USCIS, they are required to pay a filing fee in certain circumstances. The list of forms and the applicable fees for different immigration processes is available here.

USCIS recognizes that some individuals might not be able to pay the applicable fees, and has established a fee waiver process for certain forms and benefit types. A person who wants to be considered for such a fee waiver is required to submit USCIS Form I-912.

For which applications and petitions is a fee waiver request available?

USCIS accepts fee waiver requests for applications and petitions listed in the Instructions for Request for Fee Waiver for Form I-912. These applications and petitions are:

  1. Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card; 
  2. Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, for those applying for humanitarian parole; 
  3. Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant (Under Section 212(d)(3)(A)(ii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)). The fee waiver is also available for individuals with any benefit request as mentioned under section 245(l)(7) of the INA;
  4. Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion, but only if the underlying application or petition was fee exempt or eligible, or the fee was waived; 
  5. Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. A fee waiver is only available if you are applying for lawful permanent resident status based on (a) “T” or “U” nonimmigrant status; (b) Asylum status; (c) Approved status, in certain circumstances, as a relative of a lawful permanent resident; (d) Juvenile status on an approved Form I-360; (e) Refuge status under certain Acts; and (f) Special Immigrant Status on an approved Form I-360; 
  6. Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status under section 245(l)(7) of the INA; 
  7. Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence; 
  8. Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, except if filing under category (c)(33), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; 
  9. Form I-817, Application for Family Unity Benefits; 
  10. Form N-300, Application to File Declaration of Intention;
  11. Form N-336, Request for Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Procedures Under Section 336 of the INA; 
  12. Form N-400, Application for Naturalization; 
  13. Form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purpose; 
  14. Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document; 
  15. Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship; 
  16. Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322; and
  17. Biometric services fees in connection with any application or petition, regardless of whether it is listed above. However, fee waiver is not allowed if filing Form I-765, category (c)(33).

How can you request a fee waiver?

If you would like to request a fee waiver for a USCIS immigration process, you will have to submit USCIS Form I-912. The form is titled “Request for Fee Waivers.” The form specifically directs you to read the “Instructions for Request for Fee Waiver” before completing the form.

How does USCIS decide whether you will qualify for a fee waiver?

USCIS uses a three-step process to decide whether you will qualify for a fee waiver.  These steps are:

Step 1: Are you receiving means-tested benefits? 

If you are receiving means-tested benefits and you provide sufficient evidence of this, your fee waiver request will normally be approved. Means-tested benefits are public benefits that are based on your income and resources and are funded by federal or state agencies.

Step 2: Is your household income at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines at the time of filing? 

If it is and you provide sufficient proof (such as your Federal tax return), then your fee waiver request will normally be approved.

Step 3: Would you like USCIS to consider financial hardship, such as recent unemployment, large medical expenses, and/or other large expenses, in deciding the fee waiver request? 

If your income is above 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, but your special circumstances warrant a fee waiver, you will need to show evidence of financial hardship. Financial hardship can be proved through documents that have:

(a) information about your household income (as described in step 2 above);

(b) information about your assets; and

(c) information about your liabilities and expenses.

If USCIS approves your fee waiver request, USCIS will notify you that your immigration application or petition (for which you had requested fee waiver) has been received and the filing amount will be listed as $0. 

What happens if USCIS rejects my fee waiver application?

If USCIS rejects your request for fee waiver, you will receive your application and supporting documents back with the notice of rejection and the reasons for the rejection of the fee waiver request. You may then reapply for a fee waiver with additional documents (if requested by USCIS). Otherwise, you will have to reapply for the underlying immigration application or petition and pay the filing fee.

How do I request a fee waiver in Removal Proceedings before the Immigration Court or the Board of Immigration Appeals?

If you are before the Immigration Court or the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) seeking Relief or Protection from Removal, you need to submit the fee waiver request before the appropriate authority. The Immigration Court and the BIA are parts of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) within the Department of Justice. EOIR has Form EOIP 26-A for Fee Waiver Request in case of removal proceedings. You will need to submit that form to request a fee waiver. EOIR forms can be found here.

 

 

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