USCIS hikes immigration, work visa fees by 20 percent

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Naturalization fee raised by 80 percent, EADs to cost 34 percent more.

Faced with a budget deficit of $1.2 billion due to covid-19 induced closures, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is increasing fees for dozens of immigration and work to naturalization applications, from Oct. 2.

The changes announced Friday include a $10 fee for the registration requirement for petitioners seeking to file H-1B petitions on behalf of cap-subject aliens.

Fee for Application for Employment Authorization (I-765) is being increased by $140 (34 percent) from $410 to $550, while feee for Application to Register Permanent Residence (I-485) has been reduced by $10 to $1,130.

There is also a more than 80 percent increase on naturalization applications from $640 to $1,160 and a first-time $50 fee for asylum applicants, who are historically exempt from such fees.

RELATED: H-1B ban, green card delays, and now 10% visa fee hike! (July 3, 2020)

A proposed $275 renewal fee for recipients of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) has been removed. DACA fees for employment authorization and biometric services too will also remain at 2017 levels.

Earlier this week, the Trump administration announced it will not accept new applications for the Obama-era program that shields undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children, from deportation.

The administration said it will limit renewals to one year instead of two while it reviews the program.

Additionally, USCIS lowered its proposed genealogy fees, which included an increase for historical records of deceased immigrants who came to the United States between the late-19th and mid-20th centuries.

USCIS fees are being increased by a weighted average increase of 20 percent to help recover its operational costs, USCIS said. Current fees would leave the agency underfunded by about $1 billion per year.

READ: A new $350 million lawsuit challenges H-1B visa fees (January 27, 2020)

The naturalization fee will represent the full cost to process the application, the agency said, plus a proportional share of overhead costs, a change from previous policy.

“USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures and make adjustments based on that analysis,” said Joseph Edlow, USCIS deputy director for policy.

“These overdue adjustments in fees are necessary to efficiently and fairly administer our nation’s lawful immigration system, secure the homeland and protect Americans.”

The rule accounts for increased costs to adjudicate immigration benefit requests, detect and deter immigration fraud, and thoroughly vet applicants, petitioners and beneficiaries, the agency said.

The rule also supports payroll, technology and operations to accomplish the USCIS mission, it said. The rule removes certain fee exemptions and reduces fee waivers to help recover the costs of adjudication.

This final rule also encourages online filing by providing a $10 reduction in the fee for applicants who submit forms online that are electronically available from USCIS.

Online filing is the most secure, efficient, cost-effective and convenient way to submit a request with USCIS, it said.

USCIS last updated its fee structure in December 2016 by a weighted average increase of 21 percent.

For a full list of changes and a complete table of final fees, see the final rule (PDF).

This final rule is effective Oct. 2, 2020. Any application, petition, or request postmarked on or after this date must include payment of the new, correct fees established by this final rule, USCIS said.

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