While the new DHS/USCIS fee rule adjusted the fees for many forms and benefit types, it also made some important changes to fee waivers and areas other than price. Here is a list of notable changes to the regulations as a result of the new rule:
- Explicitly require checks to be dated no more than one year before the request is received. 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(ii)(D)
- Requiring agents, attorneys or accredited representatives to provide identification and sign for receipt of secure documents. 8 CFR 103.2(b)(19)(iii)(B).
- Adding authority for payment of EOIR fees to USCIS. 8 CFR 103.7(a)(1).
- Adding a $30 for fees paid to EOIR for USCIS to maintain biometric information. 8 CFR 103.7(a)(2).
- Adding Part 106 containing the immigration fees.
- Removing the fee waiver for forms I-765 and I-131 filed together with I-485. 8 CFR 106.2(a)(7)(iv) and (31)(i)(A).
- Adding a new fee for asylum applications, I-589, which were previously free. 8 CFR 106.2(a)(20).
- Adding a free option for form I-765 if it was issued with an error by USCIS. 8 CFR 106.2(a)(32)(iii)
- Charging $10 less for online forms. 8 CFR 106.2(d).
- Excluding all fee waivers not explicitly authorized in 8 CFR 106.3.
- Adding a provision allowing for fee waivers not explicitly mentioned at the discretion of the Director of USCIS. 8 CFR 106.3(b).
- Eliminating all fee waivers for all immigration benefits that are subject to the affidavit of support requirement (except for I-751 based on abuse), or for which the applicant is subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility. 8 CFR 106.3(b).
- Limiting fee waiver eligibility to only those who have an annual gross household income of 125 percent or lower of the poverty guidelines. 8 CFR 106.3(c).
- Changing the premium processing timeframe to 15 business days. 8 CFR 106.4(a).
- Changes to orphan petition processes related to those who fail to file within an approval validity period of an advanced processing application. 8 CFR 204.3
- Modifying requirements when there are substantive changes for E nonimmigrants. 8 CFR 214.2(e)(8)(iii).
- Limiting the number of beneficiaries which can be included in an H-1C, H-2A, H-2B, or H-3 petition to 25.
Changes to Fee Waivers
Previously, USCIS permitted fee waivers for different benefit types as set out in the memorandum “PM-602-0011.1: Fee Waiver Guidelines as Established by the Final Rule of the USCIS Fee Schedule; Revisions to AFM Chapter 10.9, AFM Update AD11-26.”
It is clear that this new regulation is intended to supercede that memorandum and it makes several changes that are substantial. Many people who were eligible for fee waivers in the past will not likely be any longer. Those changes include:
- Eliminating some of the groups that used to be able to request waivers of the I-485 filing fees, such as Cubans
- Eliminating the public benefit and extreme hardship fee waiver request categories.
- Eliminating most N-400 fee waivers
- Eliminating most fee waivers for common forms, such as I-765, I-751, I-90, I-131, I-601, and N-600
Many fee waivers for special groups, including VAWA, U and T applications (among others) are still going to be available.