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USCIS to Increase Many Filing Fees Effective October 2, 2020

14:02 04 August in News Updates
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8/03/20

Background

Today USCIS published a final rule that significantly increases certain immigration and naturalization benefit request fees.  The rule, which will be effective October 2, 2020, also removes certain fee exemptions, changes fee waiver requirements, alters premium processing time limits, and modifies intercountry adoption processing.  Any application, petition, or request postmarked on or after October 2, 2020, must be accompanied with the fees set forth in the final rule.

The final rule increases USCIS fees by a weighted average of 20 percent, adding new fees for certain immigration benefit requests, establishing individual fees for nonimmigrant worker petition type, and limiting the number of beneficiaries for certain forms.    DHS stated that it made no changes in this rule in response to its current budget shortfall or the pandemic.  USCIS news release 

USCIS last updated its fee structure in December 2016 by a weighted average increase of 21%.

This final rule is effective Oct. 2, 2020.  Any application, petition, or request filed with USCIS (defined as postmarked on or after this date) must include the new filing fee amount.

Key Changes

Transfer of Money to ICE.  The final rule does not provide for the transfer of Immigration Examinations Fee Account (IEFA) funds collected by USCIS to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as previously anticipated.

Adjustment of Status.  Removes the reduced Form I-485 filing fee for children under the age of 14 filing with their parent.   A standard Form I-485 fee of $1,130 will apply to all applicants.  Requires separate fees for Forms I-765 ($550) and Forms I-131 ($590) filed in connection with applications for adjustment of status, more than doubling the total cost of filing an adjustment of status application package to $2,270.

Electronic Filing.  Provides that the fee for forms currently available for online filing with USCIS and filed online will be $10 lower than the fee for the same paper forms.  LAC note:  electronic filing has some negatives and may not be worth the $10 savings.

Premium Processing.   The final rule lengthens the timeframe for USCIS to take an adjudicative action (approval, denial or request for additional evidence) on petitions filed with a request for premium processing from 15 calendar days to 15 business days.  The Premium Processing fee can automatically increase annually without notice and comment rulemaking if the fee increase will only be in accordance with the increase in the Consumer Price Index.

Employment Based Immigration.  Creates separate fees and forms for each visa classification filed on Form I-129, with fees increasing as much as 75 percent for an L-1 petition.  PL 111-230 fees for employers with significant numbers of H/L employees (“50-50 rule”) will now also apply to H-1B and L-1 extension petitions, in addition to initial petitions. It will not apply to amended petitions that are not seeking an associated extension request.

The filing fee for a Form N-400 will increase 83 percent from to $640 to $1,170.  The final rule eliminates the reduced Form N-400 fee option for certain applicants.

Forms.   New Forms I-129 and Form I-765  will be published 30 days before the new fees go into effect.

Secure Documentation.   USCIS will send secure identification documents, such as Permanent Resident Cards or EADs, only to the applicant or self-petitioner unless they expressly consent to having the document sent to a designated agent, their attorney or accredited representative and the designated agent, attorney or accredited representative will be required to provide identification and sign for receipt of the document.

The fees for some of the most common case types filed by our clients are listed below.   For a full list of changes and a complete table of final fees, see pages 13 – 17 of the final rule.

Immigration Benefit Request Current Fee Final Fee Change ($) Percent Change
I-129 E & TN, and I-129 MISC $460 $695 $235 51 percent
I-129 H1B $460 $555 $95 21 percent
I-129 L-1 $460 $805 $345 75 percent
I-129 O-1 $460 $705 $245 53 percent
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker $700 $555 -$145 -21 percent
I-485 Application to Adjust Status $750 $1,130 $380 51 percent
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (paper filing) $370 $400 $30 8 percent
I-612 Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement (Under Section 212(e) of the INA, as Amended) $930 $515 -$415 -45 percent
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization (Non-DACA) $410 $550 $140 34 percent
N-400 Application for Naturalization (paper filing) $640 $1,170 $530 83 percent
USCIS Immigrant Fee $220 $190 -$30 -14 percent
Biometric Services (Non-DACA) $85 $30 -$55 -65 percent

 

This update was prepared by Fausta M. Albi, Partner, Larrabee Albi Coker LLP.

Legal Disclaimer:   This e-blast is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute for legal advice based on the circumstances of a specific matter.  Immigration laws and policies change frequently, often without notice.  It is therefore important to seek direct legal counsel based upon individual circumstances.

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