Will the USCIS Fees Increase in 2020?

Posted by Frank Gogol

It seems like the COVID-19 pandemic has sent the world in a spiral and is not leaving anyone behind. Not only has it impacted businesses and economies worldwide, but it has also had a drastic effect on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The pandemic coupled with the recent immigration policy changes enforced by the Trump administration has resulted in the USCIS finding itself in a precarious financial situation. 

The result? A possible USCIS fee increase in 2020. If you are planning to get a green card or apply for naturalization, take note of the information below and plan ahead, so you don’t get caught off guard.

Are the USCIS Fees Going to Go Up in 2020?

The USCIS has mentioned there may be a USCIS fee increase in 2020, but no date has been set yet. No official increases have been published either. What we do know, however, is that there is a very good chance that there will be a USCIS fee increase in 2020 due to the financial crisis the USCIS finds itself in.  

Why Might the USCIS Fees Increase?

Well, to put it short, the USCIS is cash strapped. This isn’t due to one specific event or cause but rather a number of factors that have resulted in the USCIS having to ask the government for a $1.2 billion bailout. 

Ordinarily, the USCIS operates independently without government funds. It operates solely on the fees it collects when applicants file their petitions. It has, however, now reached a point where it needs some help. 

One of the most significant losses of revenue for the USCIS comes from the operational changes it has had to make to its different immigration processes. Due to several policy changes and resultant additional processes, USCIS workers have been required to work extra hours. The U.S. government has also put additional immigration restrictions in place in the past couple of years. This meant fewer petitions into the U.S. immigration system resulting in less income for the USCIS. 

The USCIS is 92% dependent on the fees they generate from petitions, and its general operations and employee salaries depend on it. Less filing fees due to fewer visas and green card applications means less financial resources for the USCIS.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 lockdown and travel restrictions have only put fuel on the fire. Many visas aren’t being issued at this time purely due to limited travel. Because of the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, many Americans also simply don’t have the cash to pay for the various types of immigration benefits available to them, such as applying for citizenship or getting a green card. Finally, on top of this, Trump has imposed a 60-day suspension of immigrant visas

As a result of all these factors, the USCIS has reported that its revenue could fall by more than 60% by the end of September 2020. If the USCIS does not get financial support from the U.S. government soon, it is anticipated to run at a 61% loss

Consequently, USCIS has to take drastic measures. One of its options is to increase the filing fees to make up for some of the revenue loss it has been suffering. At the moment, the USCIS is considering a 10% “surcharge” or filing fee increase for certain applications.

No one knows yet whether this will definitely take effect or if it does when the increases will be in force, but it can be expected to happen in the coming months. 

If you are financially stable at this time, many immigration lawyers and agencies recommend that you file your applications as soon as you can before any increase in fees take effect. 

What are the Current USCIS Fees?

You can find a comprehensive list of all the current filing fees at the following website: https://www.uscis.gov/forms/our-fees.

Here is a short list of the most common applications and its related filing fees:

  • N–600/N–600K Application for Certificate of Citizenship – $1,170
  • N–400 Application for Naturalization – $640
  • I–765 Application for Employment Authorization – $410
  • I–751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence – $595
  • I–698 Application to Adjust Status from Temporary to Permanent Resident – $1,670
  • I–140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker – $700
  • I-130 Petition for Alien Relative – $535
  • I–694 Notice of Appeal of Decision – $890
  • I–90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card – $455
  • I–129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant worker – $460
  • I–129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) – $535
  • N–300 Application to File Declaration of Intention – $270
  • I–360 Petition for Special Immigrant – $435
  • I-192 Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant – $585/$930
  • I–526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur – $3,675
  • I–485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status – $1,140
  • I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (certain applicants under the age of 14 years) – $750
  • N–565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document – $555
  • I–290B Notice of Appeal or Motion – $675
  • USCIS Immigrant Fee – $220
  • Biometric Services Fee – $85

How Much will the New USCIS Fees Be?

Nothing has been set in stone, but the USCIS has, for example, proposed that the H1B filing fees increase with 10%. This same increase could be extended to other visa filing fees as well. 

If this is the case, then a 10% increase could result in the following filing fees. Remember these fees are for illustration purposes only and are not increased fees published by the USCIS:

  • N–400 Application for Naturalization – $704
  • I–765 Application for Employment Authorization – $451
  • I–751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence – $654.50
  • I–698 Application to Adjust Status from Temporary to Permanent Resident – $1,837
  • I–140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker – $770
  • I-130 Petition for Alien Relative – $588.50
  • I–90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card – $500.50
  • I–129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant worker – $506
  • I–129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) – $588.50
  • I–485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status – $1,254
  • N–565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document – $610.50
  • Biometric Services Fee – $93.50

When will USCIS Fee Increase Go into Effect?

At this stage, there isn’t any certainty around when fee increases will come into effect. Due to the situation, the USCIS finds itself in, increases can be expected, though. If you are planning to apply for any immigration benefits or for a visa, do so sooner than later before any fee increases take effect. 

Keep an eye on the USCIS website to keep up to date with the most recent developments or announcements around fee increases. 

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Conclusion

There are no two ways about it. A USCIS fee increase in 2020 for immigration petitions and immigration benefits could mean your green card or visa application becomes just that little bit too expensive. It could even mean you can no longer afford to go ahead. Especially in the current economic climate or if you’ve gone through an H1B layoff

If you have some reserves set aside or your financial situation is stable, the best idea will be to apply for your visa or immigration benefit as soon as possible before the fee increase takes effect. That way, you might be able to still file your application and save a few bucks in the process. 

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