Request A I-912 Fee Waiver From USCIS If You Have Low Income
For those who cannot afford the high fees for filing a petition, there is a I-912 fee waiver available. So if coming up with the money to file the paperwork has been difficult for you, consider this option. Many times victims of domestic violence are blocked from having access to joint bank accounts leaving them with little resources.
Thankfully, USCIS understands this and waives the fee automatically for VAWA self petitioners. But did you know that you can also apply for the fee waiver for other case types? If you meet the income requirement to qualify for the I-912 fee waiver, you should definitely look into it.
Many American and beneficiaries are unaware that this type of assistance exists because it’s not something that USCIS shouts from the rooftop. It’s something that you really have to look for on their website. Sometimes I wonder why that is and whether they want to discourage applicants from filing the fee waiver form.
Then I quickly realized that the U.S. government doesn’t make anything simple and easy to find. Think back to when they were launching the ACA (affordable care act or Obamacare) and what a mess that was to try to sign up for. I’m thinking it’s similar with the I-912 fee waivers.
Forms That Are Eligible For Fee Waiver
If you are filing any one of the below forms, you can include the I-912 fee waiver request as well.
- Biometric services fee
- Form EOIR-29, Notice of Appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals;
- Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card;
- Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker;
- Form I-131, Application for Travel Document;
- Form I-191, Application for Advance Permission to Return to Unrelinquished Domicile;
- Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant;
- Form I-193, Application for Waiver for Passport and/or Visa;
- Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion;
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status;
- Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status;
- Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility;
- Form I-694, Notice of Appeal of Decision;
- Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence;
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization;
- Form I-817, Application for Family Unity Benefits;
- Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status;
- Form I-881, Application for Suspension of Deportation;
- 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.
You can also also apply for a fee waiver for ANY application or petition that is related to the status of the following:
- Battered spouses of A, G, E-3, or H nonimmigrants (such as Forms I-485, I-601 and I-212);
- Battered spouse or child of a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen
- T nonimmigrant (such as Forms I-192, I-485, and I-601);
- Temporary Protected Status (such as Forms I-131, I-821 and I-601);
- U nonimmigrant (such as Forms I-192, I-485, and I-929); or
- VAWA self–petitioner (such as Forms I-485, I-601 and I-212)
Documenting Means-Tested Benefits
So I’m sure you’re wondering what a means-tested benefit actually is and how to prove it. It’s a way for the government to assess your income/resources to determine your eligibility and/or your benefit amount.
It’s important to note that Medicare, Social Security Retirement (SSA) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are not considered means-tested benefits. However, Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI) is considered a means-tested benefit.
What is considered means-tested benefits?
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/ Food Stamps)
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
What is NOT considered means-tested benefits?
- Unemployment benefits
- Social Security retirement benefits
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- Social Security Retirement Survivors
- Disability Insurance (RSDI)
- Student financial aid
Income Below 150% of Poverty Guidelines
Your household income will be used to determine whether you can file for the fee waiver. Check the current poverty levels and if you make less than 150% of those levels, you would qualify.
2017 Federal Poverty Guideline
|100% Poverty Guideline
Active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces
|150% Poverty Guideline
For all other sponsors
If you are requesting a fee waiver based on a household income below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and your spouse lives overseas, your spouse’s name and income should be included in the total household income.
If your spouse is living overseas and not employed and is supported by you, write a statement on page 3 of Form I-912. Your statement should explain that your spouse is not employed, and give the reason why. USCIS does consider homelessness when reviewing a fee-waiver request. Make sure to include a letter from the homeless shelter where you are residing.
If you are homeless but don’t reside in a shelter, include an affidavit from a member of good standing organization in your community attesting to your situation.
Documenting Financial Hardship
Finally, you will need to provide documented evidence of financial hardship. This can include an explanation of your hardships in detail and how those circumstances came about.
Try to be as specific as possible and provide as much details as you can. To further help your case, you can include letters from friends and family that can confirm your financial hardship. If possible, get a letter from local community organization that can back your difficulties such as a local church or food pantry.
What is considered financial hardships?
- Going to the food bank regularly
- Using foods stamps
- Getting housing assistance
- Utilities being cut off
There are other things that can show financial hardship so send whatever documents you have. You will need to show that you truly are not able to pay any fee that is required to file the petition you need.
Reasons for Fee Waiver Denials
Once filed, it’s not guaranteed that you will be approved for the I-912 fee waiver but you have nothing to loose when you file. If you meet the income requirement, I always recommend everyone to file for the fee waiver. Save money where you can in this expensive immigration process.
The following are some reasons that the fee waiver is denied:
- The form you want to waive the fee for is not eligible
- You didn’t sign the I-912 (very common mistake)
- You didn’t provide financial hardship evidence
- You didn’t meet household income requirement
As you can see, all the reasons above can be overcome just by knowing what is required of you. Review the eligibility and requirements before applying so that you don’t waste your time.
US immigration is certainly expensive, especially for those who earn less than 150% of the poverty guideline for their household size. It’s great that USCIS allows for waivers for those who truly can’t afford the fees. The only downside is that they make it a little difficult and I’m sure it’s to weed out people who just don’t want to pay the fee.
Why does USCIS charge so much for these fees? It’s because this government agency is run off of the fees that immigrants and US citizen pay to get their application processed. You can consider it a self funded department of the U.S. government that isn’t kept afloat by taxpayers.
Due to this self sufficiency, it means that the applicants are always going to be paying the salaries of the adjudicators and immigration officers. So technically, these government workers work for us.
I’m a foreign-born Canadian that immigrated to the Unite States for love. I successfully navigated the U.S. immigration system and I can help you do the same! Whether you want to finally be with your spouse or fiancé in America, let’s figure out the best options for you to begin your life in the US as soon as possible.