U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has received almost 30,000 public comments decrying its plan to dramatically increase fees for core immigration services, including a more than 80% hike in the cost of citizenship and a 56% increase in the cost of marriage-based green cards.
At Boundless, we’re committed to advocating for our current and future customers, so we filed a detailed 65-page public comment explaining why we think the planned fee hikes are ill-conceived and designed to impose yet another unjustified roadblock against immigrants and their families. Here are some of the key takeaways:
The fee hike would hurt immigrants of modest means
The most obvious impact of the fee hike will be to price lower-income people out of the U.S. immigration system. USCIS makes no attempt to weigh the adverse impact of its new fees, so we did the math for them by calculating how long a minimum-wage employee would have to work to pay the new fees.
The results are outrageous: Under the new system, such a worker would need 10 weeks to earn enough to apply for a green card, and many other immigration benefits would similarly cost several weeks’ take-home pay. That’s simply unaffordable for many hard-working immigrants.
Even asylum seekers would have to hand over 2 weeks’ take-home pay in order to even apply for sanctuary in the United States. Only Iran, Fiji, and Australia currently charge fees to asylum-seekers, so the government’s claim that new U.S. fees would be “in line with the fiscal charges charged by other countries” is ignoring the zero-fee tradition of over 140 other countries.
The fee hike would hurt U.S. citizens
Non-citizens aren’t the only ones who stand to be hurt by the new fees. In fact, U.S. citizens are required to file and pay for many USCIS filings. In FY2018, U.S. citizens filed:
* 47,495 K-visa sponsorship petitions for their fiancé(e)s
* 835,972 green card sponsorship petitions for spouses and other relatives
* 334,182 adjustment of status green card applications for relatives
* 177,674 petitions to remove conditions on a marriage-based green card
Citizens were likely also responsible for paying fees associated with many of the 834,251 naturalization requests filed in fiscal 2018.
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