Additional Information on Filing a Fee Waiver

USCIS is funded largely by application and petition fees. Recognizing that some applicants cannot pay the filing fees, USCIS established a fee waiver process for certain forms and benefit types. We will approve a fee waiver only if you clearly demonstrate that you are unable to pay the filing fees. USCIS carefully considers the merits of each fee waiver request before making a decision.

Forms

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Eligibility
Requesting a fee waiver
How to show that you receive a means-tested benefit
How to show that your household income is at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
How to show that you have a financial hardship
Determining who counts towards your household size and income
How marital separation affects eligibility
How an Affidavit of Support affects eligibility
How requesting a fee waiver affects your current immigration status
Common reasons why we deny fee waiver requests

Eligibility

You can request a fee waiver if:

  1. The form you are filing is eligible for a fee waiver (See the list available on the Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver web page or the regulations at 8 CFR 103.7(c)(3));

    AND
     
  2. You provide documentation showing that you qualify based upon one of the following criteria:
  • You, your spouse, or the head of household living with you, are currently receiving a means-tested benefit.
  • Your household income is at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines at the time you file. Check the current Federal Poverty Guidelines for this year at Form I-912P, HHS Poverty Guidelines for Fee Waiver Requests.
  • You are currently experiencing financial hardship that prevents you from paying the filing fee, including unexpected medical bills or emergencies.

See the USCIS Fee Waiver Policy.

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Requesting a fee waiver

  1. Complete the most current version of Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver. Instead of the form, we will also accept a letter with all the necessary information that states your request for a fee waiver, is signed by everyone requesting the fee waiver, and includes all the necessary supporting evidence. 

    - It is important that you provide all of the information requested about each basis of eligibility that you have selected on Form I-912. If you do not provide enough information and documents to support your request, there will be a considerable delay in processing your request. Please read the form instructions carefully to avoid common mistakes. 

    - You can check more than one box in Part 1, Basis for Your Request, on Form I-912. Select at least one basis for which you may qualify and complete the relevant sections as instructed in the form and provide supporting documentation for any basis you select. You only need to qualify and provide documentation for one basis for USCIS to grant your fee waiver. If you choose, you may select more than one basis; you must provide supporting documentation for each basis you want considered. You are not required to select more than one basis or complete all sections of the form. 

    - You must include a full English translation for all documents that have information in a foreign language. The translator must sign a certification that the English language translation is complete and accurate, and that he or she is competent to translate from the foreign language into English. USCIS does not regulate who may translate and does not require professional translation of documents. 
     
  2. Sign your fee waiver request. Each person requesting a fee waiver must sign the fee waiver request. If you are under 14 years of age, your parent or legal guardian may sign the request for you. A legal guardian may also sign for a person with a physical disability or mental impairment.
  3. Send your fee waiver request with the petition or application for which you are requesting the fee be waived. Do not send a fee waiver request by itself.

Note: If you are requesting a fee waiver, you cannot submit any petition or application online. You will need to file paper versions of the fee waiver request and the form for which you are requesting a fee waiver.

How to show that you receive a means-tested benefit

  • A means-tested benefit is a public benefit where the agency granting the benefit considers your income and resources.
  • Means-tested benefits may be federally, state, or locally funded. In general, if you receive a benefit that was granted based on your income, we consider it a means-tested benefit.
  • The table below lists some examples of what USCIS considers a means-tested benefit for eligibility of fee waivers.

Identifying Federal Means-Tested Programs

Means-tested benefit programsNOT means-tested benefit programs

Examples include:

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps)
  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Examples include:

  • Medicare
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Social Security benefits
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
  • Retirement, Survivors and Disability Insurance (RSDI)
  • Student financial aid/loans/grants
  • If you are receiving a means-tested benefit that is not well known outside of your area, please provide as much information as you can about the benefit. This may include a brochure, contact information, or the website address of the agency granting the benefit.
  • You must provide evidence that you are currently receiving a means-tested benefit. Computer printouts are acceptable as long as they include the required information. This evidence should be in the form of a letter, notice, or other official document that contains the required information, including:
    • Your name,
    • The name of the agency granting you the public benefit,
    • The type of benefit, and
    • An indication that you are currently receiving the benefit (for example, the date granted, expiration date, and/or date of renewal, if available).
  • A benefit card by itself is not acceptable evidence of a means-tested benefit, unless it contains all four of the requirements above.
  • If you are filing on behalf of a child, provide the information and documentation of the means-tested benefit that the child receives.

Who may use your means-tested benefits to qualify

  • Your spouse may use your means-tested benefit to qualify for a fee waiver as long as you are residing with your spouse and are not legally separated.
  • If you have a child under 21 years of age, that child may use your means-tested benefit to qualify for a fee waiver. The person filing for the child must provide evidence of the parent-child relationship, such as a photocopy of a birth certificate.

Who may use your child’s means-tested benefit to qualify

  • USCIS has never allowed a parent to use a child’s means-tested benefit to qualify for a fee waiver. However, as with all fee waiver adjudications, USCIS reviews all the information and documentation received to determine if an applicant qualifies under any basis of eligibility. Therefore, while we will consider your child’s means-tested benefit when determining your eligibility, we will not approve your application under Option 1 of Part 1. Basis for Request of Form I-912 based only on your child’s means-tested benefit.
  • A child’s means-tested benefit cannot be used by anyone else as the basis for eligibility under Part 5. Means-Tested Benefits of Form I-912. However, if the child’s means-tested benefit document or agency approval letter states the total household income in which the child is a member, other household members may use the document to qualify for a fee waiver under “Part 5. Income at or Below 150 Percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines” or “Part 6. Financial Hardship.”

If you have children (under the age of 21) who receive means-tested benefits and want to file together

  • If multiple children (siblings) are filing at the same time, each child must be receiving an individual means-tested benefit or be in the household of the parent or guardian who is receiving a means-tested benefit.

If you have an adult disabled child (21 years of age or older)

  • Although USCIS does not accept a parent’s means-tested benefit for adult children, an adult child or legal ward who is physically or developmentally disabled or mentally impaired (and who is unmarried and cannot adequately care for themselves, or establish, maintain, or re-establish their own household) may qualify based on his or her own means-tested benefit.
  • The adult child may have an assigned representative for the means-tested benefit. In addition, the parent or legal guardian may provide the information about the custody and the disability in the financial hardship section.

If you have a child (21 years of age or older) who is going to college and is dependent on your household

  • A college student (21 years of age or older) may not use a parent’s means-tested benefit. However, a college student can independently qualify for a fee waiver based on either financial hardship or income below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
  • Any information about the parent’s means-tested benefit can be included under the financial hardship or income below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines parts of Form I-912.

How to show you are currently receiving a means-tested benefit

You must provide evidence that you are currently receiving a means-tested benefit. Computer printouts are acceptable as long as they include the required information. This evidence should be in the form of a letter, notice, or other official document that contains the required information including:

  • Your name (or the name of the person receiving the benefit),
  • The name of the agency granting the public benefit,
  • The type of benefit, and
  • An indication that you are currently receiving the benefit (for example, the date granted, expiration date, and/or date of renewal, if available.)

If your document does not show an expiration date for the means-tested benefit you currently receive

  • If the document does not have an expiration date, USCIS will review the date on the letter or issuance date to confirm it is within 12 months of the date you filed your Form I-912.
  • The documentation provided should not be dated more than 12 months from the date you file Form I-912. If the documentation is more than 12 months old and you are still receiving the benefit, provide additional evidence that shows you are currently receiving the benefit.

Benefit cards are not accepted as evidence

Benefit cards by themselves are not acceptable evidence of a means-tested benefit, unless they contain your name, the name of the agency granting you the public benefit, the type of benefit, and an indication that you currently receive the benefit (for example, the date you were granted the benefit and the date it expires or was renewed). States usually do not require applicants to return cards, without any value, after the expiration of benefits.

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How to show that your household income is at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines

  • You may qualify for a fee waiver if your household income is at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines at the time you file. Check the current poverty levels for this year at Form I-912P, HHS Poverty Guidelines for Fee Waiver Requests.
  • You must list the head of household’s income on your fee waiver request. For the fee waiver request, the head of household includes, but is not limited to, the head of household as determined by the IRS for filing an IRS Form 1040 or the person that earns the majority of the income for your household. You can find more information about head of household when filing the IRS Form 1040 at http://www.irs.gov/publications/p501.
  • If you are requesting a fee waiver based on household income that is at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and your spouse lives overseas and provides support to your household, include your spouse’s contributions to your household in the total additional income or financial support section. If your spouse living overseas is unemployed and is supported by you, state that on the form. If your spouse lives overseas and provides no support to your household, please include a statement explaining the situation.
  • We will consider homelessness when reviewing a fee waiver request. If you receive services from a homeless shelter, please include a currently dated letter from the shelter.  The letter should be on the shelter’s letterhead, include a statement that you receive services from the shelter, and be signed by a shelter employee attesting to your situation. If you are homeless but do not reside in a shelter, please include an affidavit from a member of good standing in your community who knows you and can support your claim that you are homeless and unable to pay the fee(s).

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How to show that you have a financial hardship

  • Include a detailed description of why you have financial hardship on the form and provide evidence.
  • If you cannot provide evidence of financial hardship, include in your description an explanation of why you cannot provide evidence. It is always advisable to include an affidavit from a member of good standing in your community who knows you and can provide more insight into your situation.
  • If you lost all forms of evidence in a natural disaster, fire, robbery, or through other means, include an explanation in your description. Please provide a copy of a police report, insurance claim or other report, if available, to support your claim.

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Determining who counts toward your household size and income

  • You count someone as part of your household size if that person is:
    • You;
    • The head of your household (if not you). If the child (under 21 years of age) is applying individually, provide the information of the primary custodial parent;
    • Your spouse living with you (if you are separated or your spouse is not living with you, do not include your spouse); or
    • Any of the following family members who live with you:
      • Your children or legal wards, who are unmarried and under 21 years of age;
      • Your children or legal wards, who are unmarried and are at least 21 years of age but under 24 years of age, are full-time students, and who live with you when not at school;
      • Your children or legal wards, who are unmarried and for whom you are the legal guardian because they are physically or developmentally disabled or mentally impaired to the extent that they cannot adequately care for themselves and cannot establish, maintain, or re-establish their own household;
      • Your parents; and
      • Any other dependents listed on your federal tax return, or on your spouse’s or head of household’s federal tax returns.
  • You must include the annual income of your household members as part of your household income.

My relative or roommate lives with me, does their income count toward my household income?

  • If someone lives with you but does not meet the definition of a household member as described above, do not count that person’s income as part of your household income. You should count the specific amount of any financial contribution that you receive from them only if that money was used to support your household. You would list that amount under the additional income or financial support section.
    • Example 1: If your uncle lives in your house (which you own) and paid $1,000 towards your mortgage, that $1,000 would be included under additional income or financial support because it was financial support provided to your household.
    • Example 2: You share an apartment with a roommate who is not a household member. You pay your own expenses, and your roommate pays his expenses. Your roommate’s income is not part of your household income because the roommate is not financially supporting you. Therefore, you do not include the roommate’s income as part of your household income.

I receive child support, but not the full amount as listed in the court order. Do I include the full amount of the child support as additional income or financial support or only what I actually receive?

  • Annotate the actual amount of child support received. If there is a difference between what is stated in a court order or documentation, provide an explanation. Examples of documents may include bank statements, copies of checks, court documents, or other documentation indicating the actual income or financial assistance you are receiving.

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How marital separation affects eligibility

  • If you are requesting a fee waiver based on income at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and are not including your spouse’s income because of a marital separation, please provide a signed statement or documentation to establish that your spouse does not live with you and provides no income assistance. Acceptable documents may include a copy of the court order that formalized your legal separation, a formal notarized property settlement agreement, financial support agreement, or separate mortgage, lease, or utility bills that show you and your spouse live apart.
  • Even if you are separated from your spouse, your household income includes any monthly support payments that you receive from your spouse.

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How an Affidavit of Support affects eligibility

  • If someone filed a Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, or Form I-864, Affidavit of Support under Section 213A of the Act, for you, that person may still be responsible for supporting you. However, we will consider that person’s income or assets in deciding whether you are eligible for a fee waiver only if that person is currently a member of your household.

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How requesting a fee waiver affects your current immigration status

  • Relying primarily on public cash assistance for income maintenance can affect your eligibility for some immigration benefits, depending on the totality of the circumstances. You may be inadmissible to the United States (and therefore ineligible for certain immigration benefits like a Green Card) because you are more likely than not to become a public charge. You may also be deportable for already having become a public charge within 5 years of entering the United States for reasons that arose before you entered the country.

    You can find detailed guidance on these issues published in the May 26, 1999, edition of the Federal Register (64 Fed. Reg. 28689) and by searching for “Public Charge” at www.uscis.gov.
     
  • When deciding your fee waiver request, we will not consider the possibility that you might be inadmissible or deportable as a public charge. We decide your fee waiver request separately from making a decision about your eligibility for the immigration benefit. However, being inadmissible as a public charge may make you ineligible for the benefit you seek.
  • We will deny your application or petition if we determine that it involves false documentation, misrepresentation of facts, or other fraud, including fraud on this fee waiver request.

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Common reasons why we deny fee waiver requests

  • The form for which you are making the request is not eligible for a fee waiver.
  • You did not sign your Form I-912 or the written request.
  • All applicants (those 14 years of age or older) filing the request did not sign Form I-912 or the written request (or, if under 14 years of age, did not have a parent or legal guardian sign for them).
  • You did not provide evidence that:
    • You are currently receiving a means-tested benefit;
    • Your household income is at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines; or
    • You are currently experiencing a financial hardship.
  • You submitted evidence in support of your fee waiver request that is not in English, and you did not provide a certified English translation.
  • If USCIS denied your fee waiver and you are not sure why, please read the denial notice (Form I-797, Notice of Action). If, after checking the denial notice, you still do not understand why we denied your fee waiver request, you may email us at lockboxsupport@uscis.dhs.gov.

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This page can be found at http://www.uscis.gov/feewaiver

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION