A hotly debated topic in the news recently is that of helping undocumented immigrants obtain U.S. citizenship. The path to citizenship in the United States can be daunting. Many immigrants do not seek U.S. citizenship due to the expense of the application fee. However, there is help for those who cannot afford to pay the†naturalization fee.
What Help is There for Immigrants Who Can’t Afford the Naturalization Fee?
Individuals trying to apply for U.S. citizenship can apply for a waiver of the naturalization fee with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Only those with very low or no income may be eligible.
Application fees for naturalization help to support USCIS. Therefore, it isn’t possible to waive the fee for every applicant. However, USCIS understands that the naturalization fee of $725 may be too much for low-income families to pay.
The USCIS offers a fee waiver so that people with a limited income can still qualify to obtain U.S. citizenship regardless of their financial situation. Unfortunately, not every applicant will receive a fee waiver. Applicants must meet specific requirements to be granted a waiver of the naturalization fee.
Who Qualifies for a Naturalization Fee Waiver?
USCIS will waive the naturalization fee if the applicant currently receives government benefits that are income-based (means-tested benefits). These benefits could include:
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Medicaid benefits
USCIS will grant fee waivers to those who provide adequate evidence of having been issued any of these benefits. The officials at USCIS will likewise also consider fee waiver requests filed by individuals whose family income falls below 150% of the U.S. Federal Poverty Guidelines. Those applicants who can prove financial hardship because of unexpected significant expenses, like medical bills may also be eligible for a fee waiver.
Filling Out the Naturalization Application Fee Waiver Form
People wishing to apply for the naturalization fee waiver must fill out Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver. However, you must first fill out Form N-400, Application for Naturalization to be eligible for a naturalization fee waiver. Because applicants are already likely from low-income families, there isn’t any filing fee to apply for the naturalization fee waiver.
Individuals applying for fee waivers must demonstrate that they can’t pay the expense by submitting records that prove their need and eligibility.
Officers of USCIS examine the request and accompanying documentation. Then they will make a final decision regarding the appropriateness of your needs.
If USCIS officers approve the naturalization fee request, they will send a receipt notice to the applicant. In the case that the applicant doesn’t meet the requirements, he or she will have to pay the naturalization fee to apply for U.S. citizenship.
What Information is Required to Fill Out the Naturalization Fee Waiver?
Information required to complete the Naturalization Fee Waiver (Form I-912) includes the following:
- The reason for your request
- Your full name
- Other names you’ve used
- Alien Registration Number (A-Number) if you have one
- USCIS ELIS Account Number if you have one
- Applicant’s birth date
- Your U.S. Social Security Number if you have one
- The means-tested benefits you receive
- The means-tested benefits your family members receive
- Documentation proving means-tested benefits
- Proof that your income is 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or less
- Employment status
- Spousal information
- Household size
- Household income (including documentation)
- Total additional income
- Documentation proving financial hardship
- Contact information for you and all family members requesting fee waivers (including signatures)
- Signature of the interpreter who assisted in filling out the form (if any)
Why Might USCIS Deny My Fee Waiver Request?
Were you denied a naturalization fee waiver by USCIS officers? This denial might have happened because:
- You didn’t meet the eligibility requirements for a naturalization fee waiver (i.e., your income was too high, or need was not sufficient).
- If you submitted Form I-912 without first filing the completed Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
- You forgot to sign your Form I-912 or did not include your supporting documentation to prove your eligibility for the fee waiver.
The office of USCIS will notify you in writing if your request has been turned down. Furthermore, they will give you advice for resubmitting the application. If you have falsified documentation or information in your request, you could face stiff penalties. Consequently, these penalties may include criminal prosecution.
Where to Get Help for Immigration & Naturalization Issues
If you’re in need of guidance along the path to U.S. citizenship or are facing other immigration and naturalization issues in Westchester County, New York, call the Henner Law Group, P.C. Our immigration experts can help you navigate the sometimes confusing and intimidating USCIS requirements for legal U.S. citizenship. The Henner Law Group can assist you with non-immigrant Visas, Green Cards, family-based immigration, political asylum, deportation cases, and other immigration-related concerns. Call Susan B. Henner today at 914-290-5777†for a free, in-person consultation.