Fees Exemptions for Undocumented Youth Seeking DACA

Written by Carmen Cornejo

Unfortunately, the fee to request consideration for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) cannot be waived except in rare circumstances. The fees for filing the documents for DACA is currently $465. Advocates, families and undocumented youth realize they need to make a great effort and economic sacrifices to pay for this process. But by far the benefits surpass the high cost. DACA youth will be free from deportation, can legally work, and in many instances can pursue higher education with in-state-tuition fees at least for the two-year duration of the work permit, which is renewable.

In very specific circumstances USCIS considers a fee exemption for those who can provide documentation meeting the following conditions:

  • The person is under 18 years of age, homeless, in foster care, or under 18 years of age and otherwise lacking any parental or other familial support and his/her income is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level,
  • The individual suffers from a serious chronic disability, cannot care for him or herself and the income level is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level, or
  • At the time of the request, the individual has accumulated $10,000 or more in debt in the past 12 months as the result of unreimbursed medical expenses for him or herself or an immediate family member and income is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level.

In short, the fee exemptions are only for persons experiencing extreme poverty paired with disability or the effects of health conditions or homelessness while being a minor. United We DREAM has posted a guide to file a DACA fee exemption request, which also includes a table showing income below 150% of the US poverty level by household size.

A request for a fee exemption must be filed and approved before the person files a request for DACA without a fee. When the Forms I-821D, I-765 and I-765WS – which comprise the DACA filing to a USCIS Lockbox facility – are made without a fee and there is no record a fee exemption request approved, the DACA application will be rejected and returned.

This link directs you to the official USCIS page for DACA fee exemption.