RLG Immigration Chair Darius Amiri updates on USCIS Fee Hikes

By Darius Amiri | Rose Law Group Reporter

In this analysis, we are discussing the recently announced proposed fee increases to many immigration applications proposed by the USCIS. 

USCIS is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, they’re a division of the Department of Homeland Security. They are the agency that’s in charge of handling immigration applications here in the United States, things like receiving your filing fees, setting interviews to discuss the merits of a case, setting up biometrics fingerprints appointments, producing green cards, work permits things like that. We’ll get into what these fee increases will look like and how they might affect your case right now.

So in August 3rd 2020 USCIS published in the federal register a final rule proposing fee increases that will take place in october of 2020, a little later this year. A lot of these increases would amount to a doubling or even more in terms of fees for certain types of applications. They published a list that’s available online. I’ll provide the link in the comments, but some of the ones that stood out to me were there I-129, the petition for a nonimmigrant worker like a H-1B Visa, tohat fee is going from $460 to $555. 

An I-129 for an L1 Visa, which is an inter-company transferee, like an executive or a manager coming from a company based in one country to a US subsidiary, that fee is increasing from $460 to $805. The I-765 which is the work permit that many immigrants are able to get while their case is pending, that fee is going from $410 to $555 so that’s a significant increase as well. 

The N-400, the application to become a naturalized U.S. citizen will be going up from $640 to $1,160, so that’s almost double the fee to become a U.S. citizen. And the I-589 which is the application for asylum, protection from withholding or removal, or protection against torture, so basically refugees who are seeking shelter in the Untied States for fear of their home country, for the first time ever the USCIS is requiring a $50 for that application.  There has never been a fee for that.

So this proposed fee hike as you can see can become quite burdensome and will really affect I believe the number of applicants and the decision to file or not in a negative way. This fee hike also comes as USCIS goes to Congress asking for $1.2 billion in funding for budget shortfalls.  So USCIS is typically a fee-based organization, they operate off of the fees they charge for these applications but because of poor planning, poor management, probably deliberately so under the Trump Administration, they’re facing a budget shortfall and they’re threatening to furlough many of their employees if they don’t get this funding. If that were to happen, we can expect to see further delays in an already bogged down, inefficient and poorly run organization in my opinion.

I think this is deliberate and it’s unfortunate and at the end of the day it’s immigrants and their families who are suffering. We’re seeing with the development of these proposed furloughs, these proposed fee hikes and these proposed budgetary shortfalls, what we’re really seeing is just one more example of an attack on our immigration system and an attempt to make it harder to become an immigrant or naturalized U.S. citizen.  

We will continue to monitor the situation, it’s a lot to unpack and we’ll provide updates as it unfolds.

If you have any further questions about this you can consult with Darius or another experienced immigration attorney. You can find us at dacalawyers.com or roselawgroup.com.

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August 2020