USCIS has announced that it intends to raise fees for several applications. Many people interested in applying for immigration benefits should file soon.
It is important to remember that the proposed fee increases have not yet been finalized and will not take effect until after publishing a final rule. DHS is accepting comments on the proposed new fees until December 31, and there is also a good chance that the increases will be challenged in court. People should continue to watch for a final rule while still planning for new fees in line with the proposed changes in early or mid-2020.
Key increases you need to know
The full list of proposed changes covers nearly every application type and overall the agency seeks to increase fees by an average of 21%. The proposed changes vary widely, however. Key possible increases include:
- Naturalization: The combined N-400 naturalization application and biometrics fees would increase from $725 to $1200
- Residency: The fee for Form I-485, application for adjustment of status with biometrics is slightly cheaper, at $1,150. However, the current $1225 fee also includes applications for a travel document and employment authorization. Such application fees would no longer be included and would cost over $1000 combined (in addition to the $1,150 adjustment of status fee).
- Provisional waiver: The fee for another common form, the I-601A application for provisional waiver, would go up by more than $300 to a total of $960.
Fee waivers would be unavailable for certain forms.
Additionally, USCIS is seeking to make fee waivers much more difficult to obtain, and subject applications for adjustment of status to more rigorous financial review, which will also make the applications much longer. Both efforts have been halted by court orders but could resume soon. If and when they take effect, these changes will make applications more expensive and challenging for many others as well.
Should people file soon?
Before deciding whether to file any application, it is vital to confirm eligibility for the benefit and understand any risks before going forward. Filing now without taking these steps can lead to wasted money or risk of deportation. Therefore, we recommend speaking with an immigration attorney before filing any application, even for people in a hurry to save on filing fees.
If, however, filing an immigration application is advisable, doing so soon may very well save you a lot of money.