PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION RESOLUTION OPPOSING PROPOSED RULES LIMITING ACCESS TO FEE WAIVERS FOR INDIGENT IMMIGRANTS

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has a long history of support for eligible immigrants seeking to obtain status, residency and citizenship in the United States;

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association believes that status, residency and citizenship should be granted to eligible individuals without regard to the applicant’s income;

WHEREAS, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is permitted by regulations to waive certain fees provided the party requesting the benefit is unable to pay the prescribed fee;

WHEREAS, since 2011, USCIS has permitted fee waivers where an applicant received a means-tested benefit, thus allowing families and individuals to use evidence of their means tested benefit to qualify for a fee waiver (See 8 CFR 103.7(c)(3));

WHEREAS, on September 28, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in which changes have been proposed regarding the process to obtain fee waivers;

WHEREAS, the proposed rules would rescind existing policy with regard to fee waivers and issue new guidance that excludes means tested benefits as a documentary basis to demonstrate need when requesting a fee waiver;

WHEREAS, the proposed rules would require all applicants for fee waivers to provide documentary evidence of income, which many indigent immigrants do not possess;

WHEREAS, the proposed change will create additional barriers to obtaining fee waivers and will effectively discourage eligible individuals from seeking lawful status, residency and naturalization in the United States.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association opposes changes in federal regulations that make it more difficult for eligible indigent immigrants to apply for fee waivers to obtain citizenship.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board of Governors authorizes the Chancellor or the Chancellor’s designee to communicate the contents of this resolution to the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, elected officials, the media and the public and to take such other efforts as may be necessary to effectuate this resolution.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: November 29, 2018