New Higher Fees Are Coming For Immigration Forms

On November 14, 2019, the Trump administration published two proposed rules that will detrimentally impact individuals who are seeking to legally live and work in the United States. The first proposes to substantially heighten application and petition fees, resulting in an overall fee increase of 21% and shifting $207 million from U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The 300+ page rule has only a 30-day comment period. The second proposed rule implicates the employment authorization process for asylum seekers, making it far lengthier and more difficult, and barring those who enter between ports of entry from obtaining work authorization altogether.

Marketa Lindt, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) noted, “These fee increases are dramatic and will place an onerous burden on millions of employers and individual immigrants. Application fees for green cards, when coupled with work and travel authorization, would surge by 79% and for naturalization, by 83%. Additionally, among the many changes impacting businesses, the rule would extend USCIS’s premium processing deadline from 15 calendar to 15 business days, resulting in slower adjudications for American businesses facing critical workforce gaps. This is just the latest in a long line of inefficient USCIS policies that have propelled the agency’s crisis-level case processing delays. Now USCIS is proposing higher fees to fund their continued implementation—in effect, transferring onto the public the costs of the agency's own inefficiency. To fix the backlog, USCIS should start by rescinding its misguided policies, not by increasing fees to subsidize them."

Ben Johnson, AILA Executive Director added, “The administration is not only hiking fees, it is eliminating vitally important fee waivers. The result will be a ‘pricing out’ of our immigration system for many individuals and families. Perhaps most egregiously and harmfully, for the first time, the United States would impose a fee for affirmative asylum applications meaning those who are literally fleeing for their lives from persecution, often with young children, would face yet another barrier between them and safety. The asylum fee specifically could result in the deportation and even death of many vulnerable asylum seekers, some of whom we met and whose harsh treatment we witnessed just this week at the border. AILA encourages anyone impacted to submit public comment on these rules. Sadly, this is the latest sign that the service-oriented mission of USCIS has been abandoned.”

Clients eligible to apply for adjustment of status should consider doing so before the higher fees go into effect.