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Proposed USCIS fee hikes may face pushback from employers

Media Contact

Damien Sharp

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has proposed a rule to adjust the filing fees for certain immigration and citizenship applications.

Stephen Yale-Loehr, professor of immigration law at Cornell Law School and co-author of a leading 21-volume immigration law series, says that while USCIS needs more money, the proposed fee increases raises several questions.

Stephen Yale-Loehr

Professor of immigration law

“The USCIS plans to increase filing fees for various immigration petitions. The full proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register on January 4.

“The proposed rule is massive: 469 pages. Some fees would increase only modestly, such as the naturalization application filing fee. Others, such as the fee to apply for an EB-5 immigrant investor green card, would increase by more than 200%, to $11,160. The proposed rule would exempt all military applicants from fees.

“In general, the USCIS plans to increase filing fees for work-related petitions more than fees for family-related and naturalization applications. The USCIS also plans to charge all new work-related petitions an extra $600 to help fund the USCIS asylum program.

“Unlike many government agencies, the USCIS is largely funded by application fees, not appropriations from Congress. Moreover, in general the USCIS must justify fee increases per type of form, not overall. The USCIS needs more money to help dig itself out of a massive backlog and to modernize its technology. But it might not legally be able to force employers to pay for asylum-related costs. Employers might sue to block some of the new fee increases if they don’t seem justified.

“The public will have 60 days to comment on the proposed rule. Only after the agency considers all the public comments will it be able to publish a final rule and start charging higher fees. Thus, it will be several months or a year before any fee changes take effect.”

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