Income for the USCIS comes largely from application and petition fees. If the fee is waived for certain applicants, it means higher fees for the others. There are certain individuals who cannot afford the application or petition fee. The USCIS has recognized this and developed Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, to assist the fee waiver request process.
Though the USCIS introduced Form I-912, they still continue receiving certain applicant-generated fee waiver requests (without Form I-912). The instructions that come along the Form have the principles that USCIS adopts while passing a decision on a fee waiver request, whether the request is through Form I-912 or via just an applicant’s written statement requesting a fee waiver. The instructions will guide the applicants on the process and the supporting documents that needs to be submitted. There are many avenues that are considered before coming to a final decision on fee waiver requests. The applicant’s income level or financial condition is reviewed.
Means-tested benefit is one that would have a say in the final decision for fee waivers. There are various acceptable means-tested benefits, and the kinds of acceptable evidence used to document the receipt of a means-tested benefit. This also will decide which family members will qualify for a fee waiver based upon the main applicant’s receipt of a means-tested benefit. If you are receiving a means-tested benefit and you have included strong proof along with your fee waiver request, the USCIS will generally approve your fee waiver request, and no other information is required.
At the time of filing your request, is your household income at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines? If you have included adequate proof that your household income is at or below 150 % , your fee waiver will generally be approved. Forms I-90, I-191, I-751, I-765, I-817, I-821, I-881, N-300, N-336, N-400, N-470, N-565, N-600, N-600K are general fee waivers.
Battered spouse or child of a lawful permanent resident or US Citizen, or having Temporary Protected can get Humanitarian Fee Waivers. VAWA self-petitioners or a foreign national who has or is requesting a T visa or U visa can also claim waivers under the humanitarian fee waiver. This also includes filings not otherwise eligible for a fee waiver or qualifying only for a conditional fee waiver such as Forms I-212, I-485, I-539, and I-601.
There are Conditional Fee Waivers too. You can apply for a fee waiver if you are subject to certain conditions. Apart from these, an applicant who does not have to show he/she will not become a public charge for admission or adjustment of status purposes may request a waiver for Forms I-192, I-192, I-485 and I-601. The USCIS is sole authority in deciding whether to grant a fee waiver or not and they have determined that some applications and petitions should be designated as fee exempt.