Written by Avvo Staff

Fee waivers for Form N-400

How to establish eligibility for a citizenship fee waiver due to financial hardship or low income

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers a fee waiver program to cover the cost to apply for US citizenship for applicants who cannot otherwise afford it. The fee is $680, or $595 if you are over 75 years old.

You can apply for a fee waiver when you submit Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. USCIS gives waivers to applicants who receive certain types of government benefits, earn a low income, or are experiencing financial hardship.

Active duty members of the US armed forces and certain veterans automatically receive a fee waiver when they also submit Form N-426, Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service.

Means-tested benefits

Means-tested benefits are any government-provided benefits that you get by showing that you have low means—assets and/or income.

For example, Medicaid is medical insurance provided at no cost to low-income individuals. If you receive Medicaid, you can get a citizenship fee waiver. In contrast, Medicare is medical insurance coverage provided to all people over age 65, regardless of income. Therefore, you cannot use Medicare coverage as your reason to qualify for a fee waiver.

Other common means-tested benefits include:

  • SNAP: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also called food stamps.
  • TANF: Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, also called welfare.
  • SSI: Supplemental Security Income.

If your spouse receives a means-tested benefit but you do not, you can usually still get a fee waiver if you live together and aren’t legally separated.

Low-income applicants

Low-income applicants who do not receive means-tested benefits may be able to get citizenship fee waivers by providing proof of income. Applicants from a household that earns 150% or less of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, published by the Department of Health and Human Services, may be eligible for fee waivers.

The Federal Poverty Guidelines change from year to year to reflect changes in the cost of living. Consult USCIS Form I-912P, HHS Poverty Guidelines for Fee Waiver Requests, for the current thresholds for each household size.

Financial hardship

If you don’t receive means-tested benefits or earn a low income, you may qualify for a fee waiver due to financial hardship. Financial hardships must be serious and unanticipated, such as medical expenses or the effects of a natural disaster. You must provide thorough documentation with your Form I-912.

For example, you can submit documentation of medical bills that take up a large portion of your income. However, when asking for a citizenship fee waiver for financial hardship, you must show that you don’t have significant assets or savings with which you could pay the filing fee.

When to file for a fee waiver

File the completed Form I-912 along with your completed Form N-400. Do not file the 2 forms separately. You must mail in paper copies of both forms. Be sure to include all the necessary documentation listed on the Form I-912 instructions to prove your eligibility for a fee waiver.

Fee waiver for multiple family members

If multiple members of your family who live in the same household or are under age 21 are applying for citizenship at the same time, you can submit your Form N-400s together with one Form I-912. Every family member who qualifies can get his or her citizenship fee waiver at the same time.

Children can receive fee waivers based on their parent’s means-tested benefits. However, parents cannot receive fee waivers based on their children’s means-tested benefits. Parents must have their own means-tested benefits or otherwise qualify for reasons of low income or financial hardship.

Getting a response

You will normally receive a receipt of your filing with a few weeks. This receipt will tell you whether your citizenship fee waiver request was approved.

If your fee waiver request is accepted, USCIS will process your Form N-400. If the request is rejected, USCIS will return your documents to you. As applicable, you may resubmit the application with the required fee, or correct any errors or missing information in the application and then resubmit.

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