The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has introduced a new fee waiver form, effective today. The form is supposed to make fee waiver requests simpler and less confusing. This is especially important since immigration fees have risen so dramatically in the past few years. Here is the announcement from USCIS:
For the first time, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is introducing a standardized form for requesting waivers of the fees charged for immigration-benefit processing. Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, will become available for use on Nov. 23, 2010 – the same day USCIS’s latest fee schedule takes effect.
“Our goal is to bring clarity and consistency to immigration-benefit services,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “The development of the new fee waiver form reflects our commitment to making improvements through extensive collaboration with the public.”
The fee waiver form reflects significant input from stakeholders, community-based organizations, and the general public. In stakeholder meetings, USCIS heard concerns that the absence of a standardized form led to confusion about the criteria and standards used to approve waivers. In July, USCIS published and sought comments on a proposed form through the Federal Register, generating input from numerous interested parties. Comments reflected applicants’ past experiences in requesting fee waivers and recommended changes to the proposed form and instructions to make them easier to understand for non-native English speakers.
The new form identifies clear requirements for documenting a fee waiver request. The form’s instructions also give information on the methodology that USCIS uses to evaluate the requests. For example, if an applicant can show that he or she is receiving a means-tested benefit and presents evidence to document that claim, then there is no requirement to submit further evidence. USCIS will use the same methodology in reviewing all fee waiver requests, whether submitted on the new Form I-912 or in a written statement generated by the applicant.
USCIS announced today that it is also now seeking feedback on a new guidance memorandum documenting the agency’s consolidated policy for reviewing fee waiver requests. Stakeholders and the general public are encouraged to visit www.uscis.gov/outreach to review the new memorandum and offer their input.
USCIS’s latest fee rule, which takes effect Nov. 23, 2010, expands the availability of fee waivers to several new categories. The final rule also increases fees by a weighted average of about 10 percent, but does not increase the fee on naturalization applications. For more information on USCIS and its programs, visit www.uscis.gov.