Immigration Fees to Increase Dramatically

Attorney Caroly Pedersen

MIAMI, Florida – Under a new proposal issued by the Trump Administration, the USCIS aims to substantially increase immigration application fees, including Naturalization fees by more than 60 percent and Green Card fees by some 56 percent.

For example, the USCIS fee to apply for U.S. Citizenship would increase from the current $725 fee to $1,170 and Residency filing fees to adjust status inside the U.S. will go from $1,760 to $2,750, allowing the USCIS to charge immigrants a separate fee of $490 for the work permit and an additional $585 for the travel permit.

Both fees are currently included in the residency application fee. Other fee increases include those for DACA applications under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program which would rise from $495 to $765.

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The Department of Homeland Security published the fees increase notice in the Federal Register on November 14, 2019, leaving a short 30-day public period for comment, which is only half the normal 60 days given, ending on December 16, 2019.

The new fees could go into effect at any time after that date. Unlike most government agencies, the USCIS is a fee-funded agency, which means that the costs for much of its services are funded by filing fees. According to revised calculation methods used by the acting director of USCIS Ken Cuccinelli, current fee levels would result in the agency being underfunded by approximately $1.3 billion per year. The last USCIS fee increase was in 2016, with only modest increases, when historically, fees for processing immigration applications have drastically increased over the years. For instance, in 1985, the application fee to apply for Naturalization was only $35, compared with the new proposed fee of $1,170!

Critics say that the substantial proposed fees increases are just a way for the Trump administration to further restrict legal immigration, to get around long-standing immigration laws passed by Congress.

The administration’s recent efforts to institute the “public charge rule” and health insurance requirements for immigrants have been temporarily defeated in the Federal courts, but that will likely not stop the administration from devising alternative methods to reduce legal immigration.

The fee increase comes just as deadlines loom for many Green Card holders to apply for Citizenship in order to vote in the 2020 Presidential election. Once the increased fees go into effect, there is no doubt that many immigrants will no longer be able to afford to file immigration applications and fewer Residents (green card holders) will become citizens, which may, in fact, be the ultimate political objective.

Likely the best gift a family member can give this holiday season is the gift of the Naturalization filing fee of $725 before the increase goes into effect!!



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