The fees for most CIS applications are astronomical. For instance the fee for N-400 to become a US Citizen is $675/- The fee for adjusting status to become a permanent resident is $1010/- Many people simply cannot afford that. However previously there were no forms and no guidelines to filing anything without fees with the CIS. If anyone filed a form and could not afford a fee, they had to write a letter. But the mailroom personnel at CIS either does not read or perhaps cannot read. So the form used to be returned asking us to send the check. You could go back and forth and in the mean time loose time or even status.
Even more egregious were fees paid due to CIS’ mistake. For instance if the CIS in clear cut error denied your case, you had to file a motion to reopen for $585/- We even had a case once where the CIS collected a fee for a I-765 (EAD) filing for $340/- and lost the file. When we traced and send them the check, the reply was that my bank should ask for the money back. My bank, Bank of America, did not know how to. So we simply paid again and refiled.
Now the CIS is proposing a form: I-912 which will establish clear guidelines for fee waivers. Hopefully the form in its approved version will have no fee requirements for CIS’ mistakes along with applications for applicants below the poverty level.
Don’t just start spending the money that you were saving for the CIS fees yet though. Sometimes these forms take years to come to fruition. As for me, I will believe it when I ultimately see it.