- Introduction: Forms Eligible for Fee Waivers
- Forms and Classes of Applicants Eligible for Fee Waivers
Many United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) forms must be accompanied by a required “filing fee,” when filed. If an applicant is required to pay the filing fee, the form will not be accepted without the fee. However, certain applicants may be eligible for what is called a “fee waiver.” Whether an applicant is eligible for a fee waiver will depend on the type of form being filed and whether the applicant can establish that he or she satisfies the terms of the regulations. In this article, we will go over the USCIS forms for which an applicant may seek and be granted a fee waiver, and special rules regarding fee waivers for those forms. To learn about demonstrating eligibility for a fee waiver, please see our full article [see article].
To learn about fee waiver requests with the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), please see our full article [see article].
There are no fee waivers available for many immigration forms. 8 C.F.R. 103.7 lists the current fees for USCIS immigration forms. 8 C.F.R. 103.7(c)(3) lists the various forms for which a fee waiver can be sought. The regulations in 8 C.F.R. 103.7(c)(3) are described in the instructions for the current version of the Form I-912 [see instructions]. We will reproduce the list of all of the forms for which fee waivers may be granted. In order to request a fee waiver, an applicant must file the Form I-912, Application for Fee Waiver [see current edition as of 08/26/16 (dated 04/25/15)].
Before considering requesting a fee waiver, an applicant must first ascertain whether it is possible to be granted a fee waiver for the immigration form he or she is filing. First, the following classes of applicants may seek fee waivers for any form filed related to their applications for status as a:
- Battered spouse of A, G, E3, or H nonimmigrants;
- Battered spouse or child of a lawful permanent resident (LPR) or U.S. citizen under section 240A(b)(2) in an application for VAWA cancellation of removal [see article];
- T nonimmigrant [see article];
- Temporary Protected Status (TPS) [see article];
- U nonimmigrant [see article]; or
- VAWA self-petitioner [see spouse; parent; child].
So long as an application is associated with the above applications for status, the filing fee may be waived notwithstanding anything else in this article.
Applicants who are exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility [see article] are eligible to obtain fee waivers for the filing of the following forms:
- Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant;
- Form I-193, Application for Waiver for Passport and/or Visa;
- Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility.
A person applying for LPR status by filing a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status is eligible to be granted a fee waiver if the application is based on:
- An approved Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian Widow(er), or Special Immigrant as an Afghan or Iraqi Interpreter, or as an Afghan or Iraqi National employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government; or
- An adjustment of status provision that is exempt from the public charge grounds of inadmissibility under section 212(a)(4) of the INA;
Is eligible to be granted a fee waiver for the:
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
An applicant for humanitarian parole [see article] is eligible for a waiver of the fee for the following form:
- Form I-131, Application for Travel Document
A petitioner for E2 CNMI investor nonimmigrant status and an applicant for a change/extension of E2 CNMI investor nonimmigrant status are respectively eligible for fee waivers of the following forms:
- Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker;
- Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.
Additionally, any person who has a pending benefit request described by section 245(l)(7) of the INA is eligible to apply for a fee waiver for the Form I-539. This includes any alien who is “filing an application for relief through final adjudication of the adjustment of status for”:
- VAWA self-petitioner [see article];
- T nonimmigrant [see article];
- U nonimmigrant [see article];
- Battered spouses of certain nonimmigrants described by section 106 of the INA;
- VAWA cancellation of removal;
Any person who is not applying for immigration status in one of the above categories may only be granted a fee waiver for the fees associated with one of the following benefits or forms (check parentheticals for notes on waiver eligibility for certain applications):
- Biometric services fee (except for the biometric services fee associated with the application for a provisional unlawful presence waiver [see article];
- Form EOIR-29, Notice of Appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals from a Decision of an Immigration Officer;
- Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card;
- Form I-191, Application for Advance Permission to Return to Unrelinquished Domicile;
- Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion (but only if the underlying application was fee exempt, the filing fee was waived, or it was eligible for a fee waiver);
- Form I-694, Notice of Appeal of Decision Under Sections 245A or 210 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (but only if the underlying application was fee exempt, the filing fee was waived, or it was eligible for a fee waiver);
- Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence;
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (unless the applicant is filing under category (c)(33) on the form for benefits under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) [see article]);
- Form I-817, Application for Family Unity Benefits;
- Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status (TPS applicants may be eligible for fee waivers for any fee associated with TPS application);
- Form I-881, Application for Suspension of Deportation or Special Rule Cancellation of Removal;
- Form N-300, Application to File Declaration of Intention;
- Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings;
- Form N-400, Application for Naturalization;
- Form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes;
- Form N-565, Application for Replacement of Naturalization/Citizenship Document;
- Form N-600, Application for Certification of Citizenship; and
- Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate under Section 322.
The form instructions note that applicants requesting consideration for DACA are not eligible to file the Form I-912. However, fee exemptions may be available in limited circumstances.
It is important to note that 8 C.F.R. 103.7(d) contains an exception to the rules we have discussed in this section. Under the regulation, the Director of the USCIS may approve or suspend exemptions from any fee for any form described in 8 C.F.R. 103.7(b)(1)(i). The Director of the USCIS may also determine that a fee may be waived for a case or a specific class of cases that are not discussed in 8 C.F.R. 103.7(c) (see the above section for all of the cases listed in 8 C.F.R. 103.7(c)). The regulation states that this authority may only be delegated to the USCIS Deputy Director. In order to allow for a waiver not otherwise discussed in 8 C.F.R. 103.7(c), the Director of the USCIS (or the USCIS Deputy Director) must determine that the waiver would be both in the public interest and consistent with applicable law.
Whether an applicant will even be able to file a Form I-912 depends on the form that he or she is filing with the USCIS. Before seeking a fee waiver, an applicant should assess whether he or she actually qualifies for a fee waiver. To this effect, please see our full article on establishing eligibility for fee waivers and the filing process for the Form I-912 [see article]. An experienced immigration attorney will be able to assess the applicant's entire immigration situation in conjunction with his or her qualifications to determine whether he or she would have a good prospect of being granted an immigration fee waiver.