U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced it would increase processing fees effective October 2nd, 2020. All applications, petitions, or requests postmarked on or after October 19, 2020 must be accompanied with the newly increased fees. If USCIS receives a form postmarked on or after October 19 with the incorrect filling fee, they will reject the form and return the filing fee attached. Along with the increase in fees, upcoming changes include the removal of fee waivers and the addition of a filing fee for asylum application. While immigration fees are ubiquitous, the introduction of an asylum application fee to the United States makes it only 1 of 4 countries in the world to charge for asylum.
Unlike other U.S. government agencies, USCIS is almost entirely funded through user-paid fees rather than taxpayer dollars. Every two years, USCIS reevaluates its fee structure and adjusts its’ fees based on that evaluation. Therefore, the fee increase ensures that USCIS has the proper resources it needs to provide adequate services to the increasing influx of applicants and petitioners. However, several concerns have been raised regarding the fee increases. Most importantly, the fee increases place additional burdens for low income families and immigrants fleeing other countries who have little to no resources in this country. Undoubtedly, the fee increase will exacerbate many immigrant families financial and physical health. Moreover, the increase in fees remains largely unexplained by USCIS. Roughly 40% of the revenue generated by the fee increases is explained by USCIS. The other 60% of revenue remains unexplained and unaccounted for. The concern from the public then becomes where is that money going to?
On September 29, 2020, Judge Jeffrey White of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California temporarily blocked USCIS from hiking fees for green card and U.S. citizenship applications days before the fees were to take effect. The judge’s ruling was based in part on the appointments of Chad Wolf and Kevin McAleenan. The Court in its injunction was concerned that two acting secretaries were unlawfully serving under the Homeland Security Act. In addition, the judge presiding over the case was concerned that USCIS had violated some procedural and substantive requirements of the APA.
While Judge White’s injunction remains in place, individuals can continue to submit their applications under the old fee structure. How long the temporary injunction remains in place is anybody’s guess. The temporary injunction is just that. It is temporary. As such, individuals are encouraged to act and not wait. Call the Presti Law Firm today to speak with an experience immigration attorney about your case.
For Judge White’s Order: https://casetext.com/case/immigrant-legal-res-ctr-v-wolf.