USCIS TO RAISE FEES

USCIS issued its final rule to up fees starting October 2, 2020. According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association:

On August 3, 2020, USCIS published a final rule that significantly increases certain immigration and naturalization benefit request fees. The rule, which will be effective October 2, 2020, also removes certain fee exemptions, changes fee waiver requirements, alters premium processing time limits, and modifies intercountry adoption processing. Any application, petition, or request postmarked on or after October 2, 2020, must be accompanied with the fees set forth in the final rule.

The final rule increases USCIS fees by a weighted average of 20 percent, adding new fees for certain immigration benefit requests, establishing individual fees for nonimmigrant worker petition type, and limiting the number of beneficiaries for certain forms. DHS stated that it made no changes in this rule in response to its current budget shortfall or the pandemic.

By dramatically increasing filing fees for a broad range of benefit requests, reducing fee exemptions and restricting fee waivers, DHS has modified established agency practice of maintaining more reasonable filing fees for certain applications and petitions so that cost was not a barrier to obtaining an immigration benefit. In applying a “beneficiary pays” principle to those who are the beneficiaries of most immigration benefits, the agency has dramatically increased the cost of obtaining and maintaining legal status.

AILA – Summary of Final Rule

Below is a highlight of the major changes made:

Adjustment of Status. Removes the reduced Form I-485 filing fee for children under the age of 14 filing with their parent. A standard Form I-485 fee of $1,130 will apply to all applicants.

Requires separate fees for Forms I-765 ($550) and Forms I-131 ($590) filed in connection with applications for adjustment of status, more than doubling the total cost of filing an adjustment of status application package to $2,270.

Provides a $50 reduction in the fee for Form I-485 filed in the future for principal applicants who pay the $50 fee for Form I-589 and are subsequently granted asylum.

Electronic Filing. Provides that the fee for forms currently available for online filing with USCIS and filed online will be $10 lower than the fee for the same paper forms.

Premium Processing. The final rule also lengthens the timeframe for USCIS to take an adjudicative action on petitions filed with a request for premium processing from 15 calendar days to 15 business days.

The Premium Processing fee can automatically increase annually without notice and comment rulemaking if the fee increase will only be in accordance with the increase in the Consumer Price Index.

Employment Based Immigration. Creates separate fees and forms for each visa classification filed on Form I-129, with fees increasing as much as 75 percent for an L-1 petition.

USCIS is limiting the number of named beneficiaries to 25 that may be included on a single petition for H-2A, H-2B, H-3, O-2 P, Q, E, and TN workers.

PL 111-230 fees for employers with significant numbers of H/L employees (“50-50 rule”) will now also apply to H-1B and L-1 extension petitions, in addition to initial petitions. It will not apply to amended petitions that are not seeking an associated extension request.

Naturalization. The filing fee for a Form N-400 will increase 83 percent from to $640 to $1,170. The final rule eliminates the reduced Form N-400 fee option for certain applicants.

Please contact us with any questions on the above fee increases. And please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.


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