Steep USCIS Filing Fee Increases ProposedMar 09, 2023
On January 4, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a Proposed Rule to drastically increase various U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) filing fees. Under this proposed rule, fees could be increased by hundreds of dollars, from employment-based petitions to family-based petitions and everything in between.
The Public Comment period for this Proposed Rule has been extended through March 13, 2023. After the Public Comment period has closed, DHS will review and consider the comments before issuing a final rule, including the date the new fee schedule becomes effective.
If you wish to comment, visit Regulations.gov, type “Docket No. USCIS-2021-0010” in the search bar, and follow the prompts.
Why is this happening?
The USCIS is required to review its immigration fee structure every two years, and the agency relies on filing fees for most of its operating budget. According to the press release announcing the proposed rule, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic led to a dramatic reduction in receipts of new applications, resulting in a temporary drop in revenue by 40 percent. The combination of depleted cash reserves, a temporary hiring freeze, and workforce attrition has reduced the agency’s capacity to adjudicate cases in a timely manner, particularly as incoming caseloads rebound to pre-pandemic levels.
The projected revenues from the proposed rule would allow USCIS to increase the number of adjudicators processing applications, implement technology improvements, and increase the support provided to individuals seeking information and assistance from USCIS.
What fees are changing?
The USCIS has included a chart, starting on page 407 of the proposed rule, which shows the current fees and proposed increases. See 88 Fed. Reg. 402, 407 (Jan.4, 2023) for all the details.
Below are some common forms that could be seeing fee increases soon.
N-400, Application for Naturalization: For those lawful permanent residents (LPRs) eligible for naturalization, the N-400 filing fee, with biometric services, may increase from $725 to $760. An N-400 without biometric services fees may increase from $640 to $760.
N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship: For persons who derived citizenship from their U.S. citizen parent and may file an N-600, the proposed rule would increase the filing fee from $1,170 to $1,385.
I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e): If you have a fiancé(e) in a foreign country that you would like to petition to join you in the United States, the proposed rule will raise the fee for an I-129F from $535 to $720.
I-130, Petition for Alien Relative: U.S. Citizens or LPRs filing an I-130 for a qualifying relative could see a significant fee increase. For those looking to file an I-130 online, the fee may increase from $535 to $710, and those who would like to file on paper could see an increase from $535 to $820.
Lawful Permanent Residence – Green Card
I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status: For those eligible to adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident, the filing fee without biometric services fees would increase from $1,140 to $1,540. With biometric services, the fee would increase from $1,225 to $1,540. Most dramatically, an I-485 for certain children under the age of 14 would increase from $750 to $1,540, an increase of $790.
I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence: A significant fee increase may occur for persons who were issued a Conditional Permanent Resident card and need to apply to remove the conditions. The proposed rule would increase the filing fee for an I-751, without biometric services, from $595 to $1,195. With biometric services fees, the cost would increase from $680 to $1,195.
Employment-based petitions have some of the most significant proposed fee increases. Most notably, the rule would impose a $600 Asylum Program Fee on employers when they file either an I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, or an I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers. This Asylum Program Fee is in addition to the increased filing fees imposed on the I-129 and I-140. Additionally, the H-1B Pre-Registration Fee would increase from $10 to $215.
I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker: Previously, all nonimmigrant classifications for which an I-129 was filed paid the same $460 filing fee. The proposed rule would dramatically change this and increase the filing fee based on the classification requested. For example, H-1 Classification would increase to $780, H-2A Classification for Named Beneficiaries would increase to $1,090, H-2B Classification for Named Beneficiaries would increase to $1,080, L Classification would increase to $1,385, and O Classification would increase to $1,055. The employer would also need to pay the $600 Asylum Program Fee.
I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers: The I-140 would see an increase of only $15 from $700 to $715. However, the employer must also pay the $600 Asylum Program Fee.
I-765, Application for Employment Authorization: For those requesting an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), the filing fee without biometric services may increase from $410 to $555 for those filing online and to $650 for those filing on paper. For those filing online or on paper with biometric services, both fees would increase from $495 to $650.
I-131, Application for Travel Document: Persons requesting travel documents without biometric services would increase from $575 to $630 under this proposed rule. With biometric services, the filing fee would decrease from $660 to $630. Refugee Travel Document fees would also see several different fee changes.
I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility: For persons seeking to waive specific grounds of inadmissibility, the filing fee may be increased from $930 to $1,050.
I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver: For persons who are subject to the unlawful presence ground of inadmissibility and are seeking a waiver by filing an I-601A may see a filing fee increase, without biometric services from $630 to $1,105 and with biometric services from $715 to $1,105.
I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement (under Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as Amended): J-1 and J-2 visa holders and their families who are looking to file a waiver of the two-year foreign residency requirement, may see an increase from $930 to $1,100.
What happens now?
Small businesses, nonprofits, and educational institutions will feel a disproportional impact from fee increases and may be less capable of absorbing them. While some changes may be made after the public comment period ends, employers and other concerned parties should not count on this.
In 2016, the last time USCIS increased fees, it took several months before the new fees became effective. While we expect that the implementation of this new rule is still several months away, employers and other concerned parties should also be aware that if it goes into effect without some changes, it is very likely that there will be litigation.
Consider filing the necessary forms with USCIS before DHS issues a final rule to take advantage of the current fees. Feel free to contact the Immigration Law Group at Orr & Reno to discuss potential options and assistance in preparing your forms.
About the Author: Emily A. White