USCIS Proposes to Adjust FeesPosted on 11/15/2019 Immigration Attorneys, LLPRecently USCIS published a notice of proposal to adjust fees for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Immigration Examinations Fee Account as they are required to do every 2 years. The current fees will have a weighted average increase of 21% (which is the same fee increase proposed in FY 2017).
“USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures, just like a business, and make adjustments based on that analysis. This proposed adjustment in fees would ensure more applicants cover the true cost of their applications and minimizes subsidies from an already over-extended system,” said Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of USCIS. “Furthermore, the adjudication of immigration applications and petitions requires in-depth screening, incurring costs that must be covered by the agency, and this proposal accounts for our operational needs and better aligns our fee schedule with the costs of processing each request.”
Unlike most other government agencies, USCIS is required to conduct fee reviews and suggest adjustments to be able to fully fund operations. These newly increased fees are projected to ensure full cost recovery as opposed to the current fees which leave the agency in the red.
The AILA has created a chart of the current fees and proposed increases for ease of reference: https://www.aila.org/advo-media/agency-liaison/submit-feedback-notices-requests-for-comment/advance-copy-uscis-proposed-rule-with-adjustments
Noteworthy in this proposal is the proposed addition of a filing fee for asylum seekers for the U.S. We would join only 3 other countries (Iran, Fiji, and Australia) who charge those seeking asylum to recoup some of the expenses of housing and aid. The fee is proposed to be $50 per person seeking asylum. "This marks a dark chapter in America's history as a place of refuge," said Krish O'Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. The new asylum seeking fee would not apply to those who claim a fear of persecution at ports of entry or those who apply for the protections while in deportation proceedings.
Additionally, USCIS is also proposing an increase in the fee for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewals. An increase of more than $200 will apply to those seeking renewals of protections under the DACA policy. A hearing on the administration’s efforts to end the DACA program took place at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 which could remove the need for this fee increase or vary the final amount due for renewals.
Those within the agency, however, said the proposal was unnecessary and wrong. “This is blood money,” said one asylum officer. “Only a bully says, ‘I won't protect you unless you pay up.’” “This administration repeatedly claims it is only going after irregular migration but this rule is very specifically about legal immigration,” said Ur Jaddou, former chief counsel for USCIS, the agency that would levy the fees. “This rule shows their true colors.”
For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov