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On November 14 2019, United States Citizen and Immigration Services, better known as USCIS, proposed new fees for different immigration applications, including adjustment of status, asylum and withholding of removal, renewals for DACA recipients, and naturalization. In addition to adjusting these fees, USCIS also proposed to eliminate the means-tested benefit criteria for fee waivers and proposed to eliminate fee waivers for specific applications. These proposals have extended their comment periods until February 10, 2020.
The means-tested benefit criteria was used as a factor by USCIS to determine which applicants were eligible for fee waivers. This criterion is a public benefit offered by federal, state, and local agencies, and bases eligibility on income and resources, considering Medicaid, supplemental nutrition assistance program, temporary assistance to needy families, and supplemental security income. As of December 2, 2019, applicants may still request fee waiver if they can show documented household income that is at or below 150% of the federal poverty guidelines or demonstrate financial hardship generally. In order to apply for these waivers however, applicants will be required to complete form I-912 and submit with supporting documentation. You should discuss with an immigration lawyer about which supporting documentation to provide. USCIS will not accept letters documenting financial hardship without a completed I-912 form. In addition to eliminating the means-tested benefit criteria, USCIS has also proposed to remove fee waivers entirely for the following forms unless the applicant is granted an individual exception or the law requires one. Speak to an immigration attorney if you are considering filing any of the following forms and have questions about whether you will be able to obtain a fee waiver.
Additionally, the rule states that discretionary fee waivers may be issued for the public interest, if the exemption is related to asylees, refugees, emergencies or natural disasters, national security, USCIS error, and agreements between U.S. government and another nation or nations. If you think you might qualify for a discretionary fee waiver, speak with an immigration attorney about your circumstances.
USCIS Proposed fee changes for the following forms as well. Please speak to an immigration attorney if you have questions about these forms or the fees associated with them. Please note not all proposed fee changes are listed here, and if you would like to learn more about USCIS’s proposed fee changes, please contact an immigration attorney.