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USCIS To Increase Government Filing Fees for Most Processes

4 Aug

On August 3, 2020, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) published a final rule outlining changes to the fees it charges for immigration and naturalization benefit requests. This rule will go into effect on October 2, 2020. While several fees were actually reduced, the new fees represent an average increase of 20%, and some fees increased by as much as 546%. 

According to USCIS, this fee increase is a result of a “comprehensive biennial fee review” and is intended to recover the agency’s costs of providing adjudication and naturalization services. USCIS is a fee-funded agency, so instead of receiving a portion of the federal tax revenue like most agencies, it is funded by the fees it charges for the immigration and naturalization processes it oversees. 

In May 2020, USCIS advised Congress that it faced a massive budgetary shortfall that may lead it to furlough thousands of its employees. According to USCIS, this shortfall is the result of fewer application and petition filings due to the coronavirus pandemic. Because the agency is mostly fee-funded, fewer filings results in decreased revenue. While this announced shortfall may seem related to the current fee increases, the now-published final rule is the result of a process that was started long before the pandemic. In fact, USCIS announced its proposed rule for the fee changes on November 14, 2019. 

Below are examples of some of the more commonly-used processes: 

ProcessCurrent FeeNew Fee Change
I-129 (H-1B)$460$55521%
I-129 (L-1)$460$80575%
I-129 (E and N)$460$69551%
I-140 (employment-based immigration petition$700$555-21%
I-130 (family-based immigrant petition; paper filing)$545$5605%
I-485 (adjustment of status for children under 14 years old)$740$1,13051%
I-765 (Employment Authorization Document, non-DACA)$410$55034%
N-400 (naturalization; paper filing)$640$1,17083%
Biometric Services (non-DACA)$85$30-65%

 

The final rule also imposes a first-ever charge for asylum requests, causing the United States to join Iran, Fiji, and Australia as the only countries that require asylum seekers to pay a fee to the government from which they are requesting asylum. Other changes in the final rule include an elimination of the transfer of USCIS-collected funds to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and revisions to the USCIS’s fee waiver policies, among a number of other revisions. 

Foster LLP will continue to track USCIS announcements and provide updates about any developments via our Immigration Updates©, articles, and blogs on our website at www.fosterglobal.com.