Effective October 2, 2020, the USCIS will begin to implement new increases for many variations of immigration applications. If you are planning on sending in an application for any type of immigration status, all applications postmarked on or after October 2, 2020, will have substantially higher fees than before. If you choose to delay your applications, it might cost you hundreds, or even thousands of dollars in extra costs.
Why Are Prices Increasing?
The USCIS has stated that the reason for the huge and sudden increases are due to operational budget shortfalls. Because of the decrease in case filing volume (in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic), the USCIS had sought a $1.2 billion bailout from Congress. Rumors have stirred that in reality is it due to mismanagement of the USCIS.
Despite this, because of inefficiencies in the system, October 2, 2020, will bring new fees. It is crucial to be aware of these fees, and attempt to submit them before this date. Otherwise, it will end up costing you.
Major Increases to Note
U.S. Citizenship & Naturalization N-400
To apply for U.S citizenship the current fees are $640 plus $85 for biometrics, which equals a total of $725. The new fees will now be $1,170 and $30 for biometrics. This equals a new total of $1,200. It is a 66% increase.
Family-Based Green Card
To Petition for an Alien Relative, you will need to apply with form I-130. This fee will increase by a total of 4%. The current fee of $535 increases to $560.
Although this is a small change, there will now be fees for both forms I-131 and I-765. Previously, these were both free, but now they will be a cost of $550 for Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization), and a cost of $590 for Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document).
The biometrics fee, which was previously $85, will decrease to $30. Despite this, overall, the increase of all fees to Petition an Alien Relative will increase by 63%, from $1,760 to $2,860.
Adjustment of Status
Form I-485 is also known as the Application to Register Permanent Residence. This means you are adjusting your status. This application is actually decreasing from $1,140 to $1,130. To combat this slight reduction, there will now be an increase for forms I-485, I-765, and I-131 for a travel document. This will impact many individuals, for example, International Students.
Petition to Remove Conditions on your Green Card
In order to Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence, you will need to file Form I-751. The cost of this petition will be raised 28% from $595 to $760. If at any point your conditional Green Card will expire, and you want to obtain a permanent residence Green Card, you will need to pay this higher fee.
Employment Authorization & EAD Renewals
Form I-765 is known as the Application for Employment Authorization or EAD Renewal. This fee will increase by a total of 34%. The original cost of $410 will rise to a new cost of $550. Additionally, asylum applicants were originally allowed to file Form I-765 in order to apply for employment authorization as well. There was originally no cost for this but it will now be $490.
Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal
With only four other countries charging filing fees for asylum applications, the United States will now be charging $50 for Form I-589. Unaccompanied minors already going through this process will not be required to pay.
Fee Waivers Eliminated
Despite many immigration fees increasing, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will also no longer be accepting fee waivers. Starting October 2, 2020, any U.S. Citizenship and Green Card applications will not be allowed to submit a fee waiver.
Applicants are also no longer allowed to use public benefits, such as food stamps or Medicaid, as proof of the need to qualify for a fee waiver. Fee waivers are officially banned unless you are in one of the exempt groups.
Exceptions to Eliminated Fee Waivers
There are some groups that have an exception to the rule that DHS is implementing. These exceptions include:
- Violence Against Women Act self-petitioners
- T nonimmigrants
- U nonimmigrants
- Battered spouses and children
- Temporary Protected Status applicants
- Special Immigrant Juvenile Status applicants
- Afgan/Iraqi special immigrants.
These groups are able to apply for fee waivers on any applications or forms. If you do not fall into one of these categories, be aware that you will not be able to apply for any fee waivers after October 2, 2020. You will be required to pay the full costs for all of your forms and applications.
Attempts to Restrict Legal Immigration
Although these fee increases have been stated to occur due to it being an “overextended system” (according to Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of the USCIS), many people do believe this is more of an attempt to restrict legal immigration. These new laws will not only push to restrict legal immigration but will primarily affect low-income immigrants.
There is another recently blocked proposal that would have denied green cards to applicants who are at risk to take advantage of public benefits. This was blocked, but it is still an obvious attempt to prevent low-income immigrants from gaining immigration status into the United States.
The Bottom Line
If you or someone you love is looking to officially immigrate to the United States, apply for a permanent Green Card, or you are attempting to marry an “Alien” fiance, you should attempt to do so before October 2, 2020. Failure to do so will result in a large number of fees, and even time wasted. If you were not notified of the increase of fees with enough time to submit an application, you can attempt to file a fee waiver if you are in one of the exempt groups. If not, you will be required to pay an increase in fees and should do so, as they may increase fees again in the near future. Contact Tower Immigration today if you’d like to see how we can help you.