Naturalization, Adjustment, and Other USCIS Fees to Increase Significantly on October 2
On October 2, 2020, new fees for filing USCIS applications and petitions go into effect, as well as the elimination of certain fee exemptions and changes to fee-waiver requirements. The final rule increases USCIS fees by a weighted average of 20 percent. 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.
Some key changes:
DACA. Removes the proposed fee ($275) for Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, filed for renewal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Maintains the DACA fees as in effect before September 5, 2017, at $410 for employment authorization and $85 for biometric service.
Fee Waivers. As of October 2, limits fee waivers to immigration benefit requests for which USCIS is required by law to consider the request or where the USCIS Director exercises favorable discretion as provided in the regulation (e.g., Special Immigrant Juveniles, self-petitioning VAWA applicants, and certain Afghan and Iraqis); changes the income requirements for a fee waiver from 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines to 125 percent.
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.
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.
Asylum. Establishes a $50 filing fee for Form I-589. 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.
Biometrics. Creates a $30 biometrics fee for TPS initial applicants and re-registrants and asylum applicants and long-term CNMI residents filing a Form I-765. Removes the $85 biometrics fee for most other applications.
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. 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.
Intercountry Adoptions. Clarifies that an additional Form I-600 or Form I-800 fee is not required when filing an additional petition for birth sibling, and changes the validity period for Form I-600A approval to 15 months.
Secure Documentation. USCIS will send secure identification documents, such as permanent resident cards (green cards) and employment authorization documents (EADs), only to the applicant or self-petitioner unless they expressly consent to having the document sent to a designated agent, their attorney, or accredited representative; the designated agent, attorney, or accredited representative will be required to provide identification and sign for receipt of the document.
Premium Processing. As part of the same final rule that will increase USCIS filing fees, the time to make decisions for applications filed with premium processing will increase from 15 calendar days to 15 business days.