Important: Last Chance for Immigrants to File Applications Before massive Fee Increase

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Recent CARECEN Citizenship Day event.

On October 2, 2020, the fees for many immigration applications will go up dramatically. To lock in the lower fee, applications must be postmarked by October 1. Here is detailed information from the New York Immigration Coalition on this troubling development.

USCIS Fees

New Fee Increases

  • On August 3, 2020 DHS published a final rule significantly raising fees on people applying for a number of applications that will go into effect on October 2nd, 2020. 
  • At the same time as raising most application fees, the agency is effectively eliminating fee waivers for all but a small class of applicants in most cases. Paired with the fee increases, this will put lawful status, citizenship, and family reunification completely out of reach for countless immigrants.
  • Effective October 2, 2020, government filing fees will increase for marriage-based green card applications filed from within the United States, for citizenship applications, and many other immigration application categories. 
  • Fee increases:
    • Fees for citizenship (naturalization) will increase by 65%, from $725 to $1,200.
    • Fees for marriage-based green cards filed within the United States will increase by 62%, from $1,760 to $2,860.
    • Fees for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, by 54.5% from $495 to $765 to apply to renew their protections, and because of other USCIS policy changes this fee will have to be paid every year.
    • Fees for victims of crimes who help the government with the investigation (U visa applicants), would in some cases increase from $585 to $1,415. 
    • Some asylum seekers will also be required to pay $50 to apply for asylum making the United States one of only four countries in the world to do this. The $50 fee is nearly impossible for detained asylum seekers to pay. 
    • Additionally, for the first time, asylum seekers would have to pay $490 for work permits

Information for Applicants

  • Immigration applications filed BEFORE October 2will be subject to the current lower fee structure and not the planned increases.
    • You can visit the Office for New Americans (ONA) for more information or call the ONA toll-free hotline at 1-800-566-7636.
  • The hotline provides live assistance in more than 200 languages. Anyone can call the hotline for information and referrals, regardless of citizenship or documented status. Calls to the hotline are confidential and anonymous.
  • The hotline operates from 9AM to 8PM (ET), Monday through Friday (excluding Federal holidays) 

Background

  • USCIS is one of the few federal government agencies across the federal government that’s almost entirely user fee-funded as opposed to operating with taxpayer dollars that are allocated by Congress.
  • In 1998 Congress passed a law that allows fees to be set at a level to “ensure recovery of the full costs of providing all such services, including the costs of similar services provided without charge to asylum applicants or other immigrants.”
  • Not only is USCIS instructed to cover its adjudicative operational costs, but it actually reimburses the government for administrative expenses that have come out of appropriations. 
  • USCIS argues that increased fees are required to cover operational costs, but the agency’s own wasteful and unnecessary actions over the last three years are responsible for driving up the costs of applications. From a huge increase in needless in-person interviews to unnecessary Requests for Evidence and improper denials that lead to delay and time-consuming appeals, USCIS has wasted its own resources in an attempt to slow-walk immigration benefits, and applicants should not be forced to pay the costs. 

 


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