Fee Waivers for Haitian and Other TPS Applicants

As reported in the MurthyBlog last month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians living in the United States, allowing them to remain here for the next 18 months without fear of deportation, provided that they submit a timely application for TPS, and are eventually approved. For adults, this means filing a TPS application (I-821) for $50, along with a biometric fee ($80) and an application for employment authorization (I-765) for $340 – nearly $500, an amount that may be hard to scrape together for some potential TPS beneficiaries.

Fortunately, for Haitians and nationals of other countries currently covered by TPS – El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, and Sudan – procedures are in place to waive TPS application fees for individuals who can demonstrate their inability to pay, and USCIS recently released Questions and Answers to explain the fee waiver process to TPS applicants. (See: USCIS Questions and Answers: Requesting Waiver of Fees Temporary Protected Status Applicants.)

Fee waiver applicants must make a sworn statement, in writing, that “I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct,” and stating the grounds for their inability to pay the filing fees. They also must specifically identify the fees they seek to have waived, and must provide documentation to support their claim. According to the USCIS, evidence that must be submitted includes:

  • evidence that you are receiving federal or state means-tested public benefits, such as Medicaid, food and nutrition benefits (SNAP program), housing assistance, and the like*;
  • your monthly gross income from all sources for three calendar months prior to filing the fee waiver request;
  • a list of all assets owned, possessed or controlled by you or your dependents;
  • your monthly essential expenditures, including any extraordinary expenses, such as high medical bills, for each of the three months prior to filing the waiver request;
  • a list of your dependents in the U.S., their address and relationship to you, and any income earned or received by them;
  • any evidence of humanitarian considerations*, such as disability, age, homelessness, unemployment, etc, and
  • any other information that you believe supports your inability to pay the fees that you would like waived.

The starred (*) items are not mandatory, but the USCIS notes that such evidence will be given significant weight in determining your eligibility for a fee waiver. According to the USCIS, documentary evidence must be submitted in the original language, accompanied by a full and complete English translation.

The USCIS Q&A memo notes that anyone who is 18 or older can request a fee waiver for his or her unmarried children under 18, and for unmarried sons or daughters – or legal wards – of whom that person is guardian, if they cannot adequately care for themselves. It also notes that it is not necessary to file a separate fee waiver request for filing fees and biometric fees. Further information is available through the link, above, and by phone at the USCIS National Customer Service Center, which also provides TDD for the hearing impaired. See the USCIS WebSite for these numbers.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.