*Practice limited to federal immigration law. Licensed in NY, MA, but not in CA.

USCIS Finalizes Changes: Many Immigration Fees are Increasing

Pushed aggressively by the Trump Administration, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is increasing a number of different immigration fees. As reported by CNN, the immigration agency has officially updated its fee structure after a nearly year-long review. Here, our Los Angeles immigration lawyer provides an overview of the immigration fee increases and explains how the COVID-19-related financial problems at USCIS hurt immigrants.

An Overview of the Immigration Fee Increases

As July comes to a close, USCIS is finalizing fee increases for more than a dozen immigration applications and employment visa applications. The extent of the fee increases vary widely—some are a few percentage points, while other fees are rising by nearly 80 percent. Here are two of the most notable changes:

Naturalization Applications: The most striking fee increase is for naturalization applications. The online naturalization application process fee is rising by an eye-popping $520, to $1,160. It is a significant cost for applicants.
Asylum Applications: For the first time in American history, USCIS is charging a fee to asylum seekers. The $50 asylum application fee makes the United States one of only four countries on earth to charge such a fee to vulnerable migrants.

While the new fees put additional financial strain on immigrants in a time of deep economic uncertainty, there were some fee increases that were dropped. Initially, the Trump Administration was seeking to institute a new $275 fee for DACA renewals. USCIS has decided to remove that proposed fee.

Fees are Just One Problem: USCIS Needs More Dedicated Funding

The new USCIS fees come at a time when the agency is struggling with the fallout of the pandemic. As the coronavirus is still spreading rapidly, the agency is in a tenuous position. Indeed, there are serious financial problems within the USCIS. These issues are likely to cause more stress and problems for immigrants. According to a report from Marketplace, significant budget shortfalls within the USCIS could lead to a longer wait for immigrants and their families. Delays in processing have long been a serious problem, and it is only getting worse in the time of the pandemic.

Of course, the new fees—while a serious burden for applicants—are going to do little to help fix the USCIS budget problems. The agency needs additional dedicated funding from the federal government to operate more efficiently during the time of COVID-19. The Federal News Network reports that a bill was passed to provide temporary relief to the immigration agency—but that major employee furloughs could be coming to the already overburdened agency without additional action.

Get Help From a Los Angeles Immigration Attorney Today

At Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, we serve every client with the highest level of professional skill and integrity. Our mission is to protect your rights and help you find a solution. If you have questions about your immigration case, our lawyers can help. To arrange a completely confidential review of your case, please call our Los Angeles office now. We represent clients in Southern California and throughout the U.S.

Josh Goldstein
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