USCIS published its new fee schedule – with some significant or even dramatic increases – on August 2 of this year, to go into effect on October 2. USCIS conducted a comprehensive biennial fee review and determined that current fees do not recover the full cost of providing adjudication and naturalization services. They have therefore added approximately 20% to the total fee schedule, with some services costing almost double, and new fees added to other services.
All fee changes will go into effect on October 2 2020.
WHICH IMMIGRATION SERVICES WILL BE AFFECTED BY THE RISE IN SERVICE FEES?
While some services have actually gone down, others have gone up exponentially. Here are the most common services that are being hit the hardest.
- Adjustment of Status to Lawful Permanent Residence: This fee increases from $1,225 for most applicants to $2,270.
- Naturalization: This filing fee will almost double from $640 to $1,170.
- Provisional Waiver: The Form I–601A application for a provisional unlawful presence waiver will increase from $630 to $960.
- Asylum & Witholding of Removal: In another move that will adversely affect those with the least resources, there will be a new fee of $50 on applications for asylum (Form I-589). This fee would be refunded to asylum seekers after successful applicants apply for permanent residence. The United States is now one of only four countries in the world that imposes fees on asylum seekers.
- Fee Waivers in general: USCIS will slash existing fee waivers including those for applications for naturalization, adjustment of status, green card replacement and renewals (Form I-90) and employment authorization. USCIS will disallow fee waivers for any applicant who is subject to an affidavit of support requirement, is already a sponsored immigrant, or is subject to public charge inadmissibility.
- DACA: While general fees remain the same for now, DACA applicants will have to request work authorizations every year as opposed to every two years, which will stick them with a $410 annual fee to maintain their work authorization
WHAT HASN’T CHANGED UNDER THE NEW FEE SCHEDULE?
Fee waivers will remain available for VAWA self-petitioners, battered spouses of certain nonimmigrants, U visa applicants, T visa applicants, TPS applicants and certain Special Immigrants. The current fee for DACA has also remained the same.
PREMIUM PROCESSING TIME WILL BE GREATLY INCREASED.
Finally, premium processing time will be increased from 15 days to almost 3 weeks.
While the above news is obviously a case of incredibly poor timing (particularly in 2020), immigration fee increases are nothing new. There was a time – about 50 years ago – when adjustment of status cost about ten dollars. Times change. Inflation affects all segments of society.
Based on my 25 years exclusively representing immigrants, I always am reminded that America is the greatest country in the world, and that is why so many foreign nationals want to come here, no matter what.
The investment in your future may cost more, but the dividends are potentially unlimited.