June 12, 2018

Harris Introduces Bill to Waive Fees for Disaster Victims Replacing Immigration Documents, Passports and Designate Child Care as Critical Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris today introduced the Disasters Victims Passport and ID Relief Act, legislation to create a blanket waiver for replacement fees of critical documents for individuals and households who qualify for FEMA Individual Assistance as a result of a major disaster, and reclassify child care as a critical service. This reclassification will provide child care facilities with the funding they need to operate following a disaster. This legislation follows letters Harris sent last fall to DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling for them to waive immigration documents and passport fees, respectively, for Californians following the devastating wildfires.

“Victims of natural disasters are forced to reconstruct their lives, and too often face high levels of financial stress,” said Senator Harris. “We must do what we can to ease that burden including waiving fees associated with the replacement of critical documents, and ensuring child care facilities have the funding they need so families can get back on their feet.”

In the wake of natural disasters such as last year’s California fires and floods, individuals are forced to assess the full extent of damages incurred which can often include the loss or destruction of critical documents that carry substantial replacement fees. Documents such as passports, permanent resident cards, certificates of citizenship and employment documents can carry fees worth upwards of $500.

Examples of replacement fees:

  • Passport book replacement ($110 for book)
  • File Search Fee for US Passport ($150), which is required when an applicant is unable to present evidence of U.S. citizenship or verification of a previously issued U.S. Passport or Consular Report of Birth Abroad;
  • Permanent Resident (Green) Card ($455)
  • Declaration of Intention, Naturalization Certificate, Certificate of Citizenship, or Repatriation Certificate ($555);
  • Employment Authorization Document ($410)

The Disasters Victims Passport and ID Relief Act would:

  • Amend Section 408 (e) of the Stafford Act by adding a new subsection on critical document fee waivers.
    • Provides a replacement fee waiver for the following documents: U.S. Passport, Visa, Permanent Resident Card, Declaration of Intention form, Naturalization/Citizenship form, and the Employment Authorization form. The waiver also applies to any cost associated with the biometric service required for issuing documents without other forms of identification.
    • Exempts the waived fees from the Individual Assistance maximum.
  • Amend Section 406 (a)(3)(B) of the Stafford Act by including child care as a critical service under the education category.

For text of the legislation, click here