USCIS has announced a change in the fees it charges for the services it provides. The announcement became official November 14th, but is subject to comments from the public for over 30 days. The rate change is expected to go into effect December 16, 2019, while the comment period is still running.
Many people ask why USCIS charges fees for the services it provides. US immigration policy is such that the taxpayers do not fund applications for benefits provided by USCIS. The burden for the costs is placed on those who seek benefits, such as naturalization, adjustment of status or lawful permanent residence. Over 90% of the USCIS budget comes from fees collected from customers.
USCIS is required to reassess the fees it charges for the services it provides periodically to ensure that they are covering their costs. The last fee change was at the end of 2016, and this reassessment process happens every few years.
Our clients generally only see USCIS in action when they have an interview at the USCIS office, making it difficult to understand why it costs so much to process the applications they receive. USCIS works on the case from the moment they receive it until they make a final decision. Additionally, there are costs associated with running required background checks and optional fraud investigations, in addition to in-person interviews. While some fees are being reduced, on average the fees are increasing by about 20% over current rates.
Some changes that are noteworthy:
I-485 Application with work permit and travel permit applications – current fee, $1,225. New fee, $2,195. However, applicants can reduce that cost by not filing for work permits and travel documents. Those costs are included in the $1,225 fee. Without the work permit and travel document, the new fee is $1,120. Children under age 14 filing with a parent are currently charged $750, including the work and travel permits. New fee is $1,120, again without the work permit and travel document.
N-400 Application – current fee, $725. New fee, $1,170. The $725 includes a biometric services fee of $85. That fee is being reduced down to $30 and may be required in addition to the $1,170.
I-129 Petition – current fee, $460. New fee, variable depending on the underlying classification requested. For example, H-1B Petitions will become $560. L-1 Petitions will become $815. E-2 and R will become $715. These fees are in addition to any other statutorily required fees, such as fraud prevention fees and other access fees to the H and L programs.
These changes are not final. They are subject to reconsideration in light of the comments USCIS receives. The comment period ends on December 16, 2019, and the changes should go into effect shortly after the comment period has ended.
If you would like to avoid an increasing fee in December 2019, make sure to file your case prior to the effective date of the change. Contact our office today for a free consultation to discuss how we may be able to help you beat the deadline of the fee increase.
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About Davis & Associates:
Davis & Associates is the immigration law firm of choice in Houston & North Texas including Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Frisco, McKinney and surrounding areas. Their attorneys provide expert legal counsel for all aspects of immigration law, including deportation defense, writs of habeas corpus and mandamus, family-sponsored immigration, employment-sponsored immigration, investment immigration, employer compliance, temporary visas for work and college, permanent residence, naturalization, consular visa processing, waivers, and appeals. Attorney Garry L. Davis is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.