DACA applicants who have a chronic disability: Process, timeline, and advice on applying for DACA and a fee exemption


DACA and Tax FormsAfter the announcement of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), my sister and I prepared my brother’s application (he has a chronic disability and is unable to complete the application on his own). Because there is a lack of information on the process for applicants who have a chronic disability, I wanted to share with you all the steps that my sister and I took to prepare and successfully submit my brother’s DACA application.

First, you should note that fee exemptions for DACA are available only to applicants who meet one of the following conditions:

  • You are 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 your income is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level,
  • You cannot care for yourself because you suffer from a  serious chronic disability and your income is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level,  or
  • You, at the time of the request, accumulated $10,000 or more in debt in the past 12 months as the result of unreimbursed medical expenses for yourself or an immediate family member and your income is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level.

My brother meets the second condition so my sister and I proceeded to request a fee exemption request for him. To do so, you first have to:

  • Send a letter in English requesting the exemption. USCIS must be able to identify the individual(s) who needs the exemption and the exemption category requested.
    • NOTE: We submitted a copy of my brother’s current Mexican Passport and birth certificate
  • Attach documentation (copies are acceptable) supporting your request. The supporting documents must be in English or accompanied by a certified English translation.
    • NOTE: We submitted a medical note issued by my brother’s pediatrician as proof of his chronic disability and income being under 150% of the U.S. poverty level (because he is unable to work)
  • The letter must be signed by the individual requesting consideration for the fee exemption. If the individual needing the exception cannot sign, provide an explanation and evidence that the person who does sign is a parent or legal guardian.
    • NOTE: My brother is unable to sign due to this chronic disability, so we submitted proof that the person signing the letter is his dad. To do so, we submitted a copy of my dad’s birth certificate (along with the English translation) and a copy of brother’s birth certificate (again, with the English translation)
  • Each person requesting to be exempt from paying the filing fee should submit their own letter. Multiple individuals should not be grouped into one letter.
  • Mail your request to:
    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Attn:  Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Fee Exemption Request
    20 Massachusetts Ave., NW
    4th Floor, Suite 4300
    MSC 2300
    Washington, DC 20529

My sister and I wrote a cover letter outlining my brother’s fee exemption request and attached all supporting documents. We went ahead and submitted all of this to USCIS. At this point, USCIS will:

  • Review your letter and supporting documents to determine if you are in a circumstance that warrants a fee exemption.
  • Request additional evidence if needed.
  • Approve or deny your fee exemption request.
  • Send you a fee exemption approval or denial letter.

Thankfully, my brother’s fee exemption was approved! After this, we attached a copy of the fee exemption approval letter to the front of his DACA application, which included the Forms I-821D, I-765 and I-765WS.

Here’s the timeline for the entire process:

  • January 2013: We mailed USCIS my brother’s fee exemption request
  • March 2013: USCIS mailed us back a fee exemption approval letter that we could then attach to my brother’s DACA application at the very front of the packet (instead of having to attach a check to cover the $465 filing fees)
  • April 2013: We submitted my brother’s DACA application
  • September 2013: My brother got approved for DACA

This year, we went ahead and submitted my brother’s DACA renewal application and are still waiting to hear back from USCIS. With that said, I have one last piece of advice: With DACA renewals, make sure that you send your fee exemption request 3+ months before your initial DACA expires! I say this because USCIS is currently taking longer to process DACA renewal applications. To ensure that you get your fee exemption approved on time, you want to submit it as early as possible so that you can then submit your DACA renewal application with enough time to be approved before your current DACA expires.

For additional information and concerns, please check out USCIS’s official website: “Guidance for an Exemption from the Fee for a Form I-765 filed with a Request for Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals


Additional recommended resources:

My (Un)Documented Life Blog- Posts about applying for DACA

My (Un)Documented Life Blog- Posts about renewing your DACA

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Categories: Applying for DACA

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2 replies

  1. Carolina, I saw your post about helping your brother with a chronic disability fill out his DACA & fee exemption. My follow-up question is: was he able to get health care with DACA? What if an adult with a severe disability (ie severe autism) who can’t work (and thus does not have employer-provided health coverage) needs medical services? Are there options?? Thanks!

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