Beginning December 23, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will increase their filing fees for over half of their forms. Among those with impending increases are some of the most commonly used forms, including the I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Work Visa), the I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative), and the I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), all of which are facing fee increases of over $100.
Since USCIS derives the majority of their operational expenses from these filing fees, the increase aims to continue to cover the full costs of services provided by USCIS. However, Congressional cuts to other programs have also indirectly lead to these increases. Less funding for programs such as the Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations Directorate and the Office of Citizenship means that USCIS has to generate funds from other sources, such as raising filing fees. However, it should be noted that periodic increases in filing fees for USCIS applications is common; it is the large nature of the increase of fees on particular applications that begs speculation.
Certain fees will remain the same after December 23, including the Biometrics Fee and form I-821D (Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Furthermore, even though the fee for form N-400 Application for Naturalization may be increasing, applicants from low income households will have a reduced fee option.
USCIS Director León Rodríguez made the following statement regarding the increase, commenting, “We are mindful of the effect fee increases have on many of the customers we serve. That’s why we decided against raising fees as recommended after the fiscal year 2012 and 2014 fee reviews. However, as an agency dependent upon users’ fees to operate, these changes are now necessary to ensure we can continue to serve our customers effectively. We will also offer a reduced filing fee for certain naturalization applicants with limited means.” While Rodriguez’s statement is meant to acknowledge the concerns associated with fee increases, for many, this could mean that the opportunity of legitimizing their presence in the United States has been made even more difficult.
Below is an abbreviated list of the increases for specific forms and applications. If you have any questions regarding the fee increases and how they could affect your case, please call our office.