U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will increase fees on immigration applications effective October 2. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published the proposed fee increases in November 2019. Immigration fees will increase an average of 20%, and are intended to help make up for a shortfall in the USCIS budget due to COVID and immigration administrative costs. Immigration fee increases include:
• Applying for U.S. citizen will cost 81% more to $1170
• H-1B increase of 21% to $555
• Requesting genealogy records increases 300%
• New $50 fee for asylum seekers
• 34% increase for I-765 Employment Authorization Documents to $550
There is a $10 fee reduction for applications filed online. The new rule removes some fee exemptions and reduces fee waivers to help recover the costs of adjudication. A full list of changes and a complete table of final fees are in the USCIS final rule.
Melissa Rodgers, director of programs for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, called the fees a wealth tax and said the fees would likely price out many people who could have otherwise become citizens:
“This is a wealth tax on becoming a U.S. citizen. It’s part and parcel of the assault on the naturalization process.”
Chicago immigration attorney Mario Godoy is advising immigrants to file their immigration applications now, before fees go up:
“The new immigration fees are going to make it difficult for many people to apply for visas, residency, citizenship and other benefits. If you plan to file for immigration benefits, you should consider filing now – before the new fee increases go into effect on October 2.”
Up to 75% of USCIS employees are scheduled to be furloughed August 31 due to agency budget shortfalls. Immigration advocates claim the anti-immigration Trump administration has initiated programs that have increased USCIS costs while limiting immigration, including:
• increased staffing and red-tape in order to limit legal immigration
• placed restrictions on visas due to the novel coronavirus pandemic
• attempted to block immigrants who would qualify for public assistance
United States immigration laws can be extraordinarily complicated. A small mistake on an application can lead to years of delays to citizenship and even outright denials and deportation. Your decision to hire an experienced immigration lawyer can save you time, money and stress – and make the difference between your immigration application being denied or approved. Contact Godoy Law Office, our skilled immigration lawyers in Chicago, Lombard and Oak Brook can answer any questions about immigration and guide you through every step of the process.