Immigration Application Fee Increase

By:Angela Filippi– Clerk, Bolour/Carl Immigration Group

In November 2019, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed to increase most USCIS/Immigration application fees.  According to USCIS, the current fees leave a gap in the budget of $1.3 billion per year. The proposal establishes a weighted average increase of 21% of the fee costs. Additionally, it includes the introduction of new fees, multiple fees for petitions of non-immigrant workers, limitation of numbers of beneficiaries in certain forms and changes of some benefit request requirements.

For instance, adjustment of status, petitions for asylum, DACA renewals and naturalization will all be affected. The current fee for adjustment of status is set at $1,225.00 and it covers the petition and both the jointly filed applications for work and travel authorizations. The proposed rule will separate the filing fees and the total will amount to $2,195.00.

This rule also imposes a $50.00 fee for asylum applications (currently, only Iran, Australia and Fiji charge for an asylum fee). The increase of employment authorization and biometrics fees will add an additional 55% to the renewal costs for DACA. Furthermore, for the first time in the history of this country the naturalization process will cost more than $1,000.00 – specifically $1,170.00.

Finally, the proposal intends to eliminate fee waivers among the applications of adjustment of status, naturalization, employment authorization and green cards replacements and renewals. The reduced-fee option for families with income between 150% and 200% of the poverty level will be eliminated. Waivers for VAWA self-petitioners (Violence Against Women Acts – battered spouse, children and parents), U (Victim of a Crime), T (Victim of Human Trafficking), and TPS (Temporary Protected Status) applicants will stay.

It is safe to assume that these changes will most likely disadvantage young immigrants (DACA) and also seniors and low-income immigrants that will experience the elimination of the waivers in adjustment of status and naturalization petitions. The introduction of a $50.00 fee for asylum and humanitarian protection will be prohibitive for both people currently in the United States and seeking for asylum, because they are not allowed to work until they obtain authorization for employment, and that may take months if not years to secure.

            If you are contemplating to file for an immigration benefit, filing sooner than later will definitely save you money.  Call anyone of our attorneys at 323-857-0034 if you have any questions.