USCIS Proposes Increased Fees for All Immigration-Related Applications

In a new proposal officially put forward on Thursday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) called for major fee hikes for immigration-related applications.

The cost for becoming a citizen would rise above $1,000 for the first time in history. In another first, USCIS proposed a new fee for asylum seekers, which would make the United States only the fourth country in the world to charge for humanitarian protection. Advocates decried the fee increases as an attack on legal immigration.

Under the proposed fees, an applicant for a green card through marriage who was applying from inside the United States would have to pay $2,750 in total. This is a $990 increase from the previous costs.

Applicants for citizenship would also pay over 60% more, with the total fees increasing from $725 to $1,170.

USCIS also plans to abolish fee waivers for a wide variety of applications, including for naturalization.

Currently, nearly 40% of applicants for citizenship receive a fee waiver, making this a significant change that could hit seniors and low-income immigrants the hardest. Under the agency’s plan, only fee waivers required by law would be allowed, with all other fee waivers abolished.

Some groups will be particularly impacted, including crime and trafficking victims seeking U visas or T visas. Individuals seeking these visas often need to file Form I-192, which allows them to officially reenter the United States on the new visa. The current fee is $930, for which a fee waiver is available.

Under the new proposal, the fee would increase to $1,415 and no fee waivers would be available. This could mean that victims of trafficking would be unable to afford the visa allowing them to stay in the United States, even though they were otherwise eligible to receive it.

USCIS also proposes to charge people $50 to ask for asylum, which the agency says will discourage “frivolous filings.” Currently, only Iran, Fiji, and Australia charge a fee for asylum seekers. The $50 fee would likely prove prohibitive to people seeking asylum—who are not legally allowed to work in the United States until after applying for asylum.

By Aaron Reichlin-Melnick for IMMIGRATION IMPACT
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