Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Immigration Fee Waivers: Part I

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is funded largely by application and petition fees. Waiving a fee transfers the cost of processing the application and petition for free to others through higher fees. However, we recognize that some individuals may not be able to pay the filing fee. This page contains an introduction to the USCIS fee waiver policies and procedures and links to more specific guidelines.
Fee Waiver Guidance
USCIS developed Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, in an effort to facilitate the fee waiver request process. USCIS will continue to consider applicant-generated fee waiver requests (i.e., those not submitted on Form I-912) that comply with 8 CFR 103.7(c). Form I-912 instructions give information on the methodology that USCIS uses to make a decision on a fee waiver request, whether the request is submitted on Form I-912 or via an applicant-generated written statement requesting a fee waiver. The instructions provide applicants with guidance on properly completing Form I-912 and submitting supporting documentation.
The review of any fee waiver request will follow a series of steps to determine whether the applicant’s income level or financial condition makes him or her eligible for the fee waiver.
Step 1. Are you receiving a means-tested benefit?  This step instructs an applicant about various acceptable means-tested benefits and the kinds of acceptable evidence used to document the receipt of a means-tested benefits. This step also outlines which family members will be considered as eligible for a fee waiver based upon the primary applicant’s receipt of a means-tested benefit. If you are receiving a means-tested benefit and you have provided sufficient evidence with your fee waiver request, your fee waiver will normally be approved and no further information is required.
Step 2. Is your household income at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines at the time of filing? This step instructs an applicant about what is acceptable evidence in determining household income. It also specifies what family members should be included when determining household size. If you have provided sufficient evidence that your household income is at or below the 150 % threshold, your fee waiver will normally be approved.
Step 3. Do you have some financial hardship situation that you would want USCIS to consider when determining eligibility for a fee waiver? This step allows an applicant to list any special circumstances that USCIS should consider in addition to income such as extraordinary expenses and liabilities.

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