United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has introduced a standardized form for requesting waivers of the fees charged for immigration-benefit processing. Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, became available for use on November 23, 2010.
The new form identifies the requirements for documenting a fee waiver request. The form’s instructions also give information on the methodology that USCIS uses to evaluate the requests. For example, if an applicant can show that he or she is receiving a means-tested benefit and presents evidence to document that claim, then there is no requirement to submit further evidence.
USCIS will use the same methodology in reviewing all fee waiver requests, whether submitted on the new Form I-912 or in a written statement generated by the applicant.
James L. Rector, United States Customs & Border Protection (“USCBP”) Assistant Port Director (“APD”), Blaine, Washington, has informed the American Immigration Lawyers Association that USCBP has now established a NAFTA adjudications trial program. It will be staffing the Pacific Highway port of entry with NAFTA subject matter experts every Tuesday and Thursday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm for 90 days (through February 25, 2011).
This is interesting because, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (“Legacy INS”) initially established Free Trade Officers at ports of entry in order to ensure the consistency (and perhaps accuracy) of NAFTA adjudications. Although adjudications made by certain Free Trade Officers were not always correct and were not necessarily consistent with other ports of entry, they were consistent to the extent that similar cases submitted at the same port were adjudicated in the same manner.
When Legacy INS split in March 2003, USCBP started phasing out dedicated Free Trade Officers. The above trial program represents a reversal of USCBP’s prior decision to eliminate Free Trade Officers. If the trial program is successful, USCBP may start assigning dedicated Free Trade Officers to other ports of entry.