Legal Aid Announces Gofundme Drive to Help Families Afford Exorbitant Immigration Applications

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Effort Comes in Response to Federal Government Now Routinely Denying Fee Waiver Requests From Low-income Immigrant New Yorkers

The Legal Aid Society announced a new GoFundMe campaign today to help immigrant families afford fees associated with filing certain immigration applications, which can average around $750 per person.

This effort comes in responses to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service’s (USCIS) new posture denying fee waiver requests to low-income immigrants, even victims fleeing domestic violence.

“These application fees come at an enormous price, which for many of our clients is simply insurmountable,” said Hasan Shafiqullah, Attorney-In-Charge of the Immigration Law Unit at The Legal Aid Society. “The hurdles are even more daunting now that USCIS has begun to indiscriminately reject fee waiver requests, putting many of our clients at immediate risk. Supporting this campaign will help us fight unlawful deportation, unjust detention, and to keep families together.”

GoFundMe hyperlink: https://www.gofundme.com/help-immigrants-stay-in-new-york

Background  

USCIS charges filing fees for most applications. These fees can be high, and most cannot be waived: $1,760 to seek a green card through a family member, $725 for citizenship, $540 to renew a green card, $410 to renew a work permit, and $930 for a victim of a violent crime to seek relief.

For the few applications for which fees can be waived, USCIS has begun indiscriminately rejecting fee waiver requests. The federal government also appears to be on the verge of publishing new rules that would make receipt of means-tested public benefits (one of the traditional bases for seeking a fee waiver) much riskier than before.  For these reasons, Legal Aid has been helping our immigrant clients, who are all low-income, with the payment of these fees. But we need your help. 

Client Story

Afua L. came to the US on a tourist visa 2002, but for various reasons stayed here, without returning to her native Ghana. In 2007, she fell in love with a US citizen, with whom she eventually had two children.  She and her husband came to Legal Aid for help last year with a family-based petition for her to get a green card. Although our services are free, the low-income couple could not afford the filing fees charged by US Citizenship and Immigration Services: $1,760, plus an additional $200 for a medical examination. After Legal Aid paid these fees for her, she successfully completed the immigration process in July 2018, obtaining her green card and at last securing her status.