DHS Fee Hike Blocked

The Department of Homeland Security issued a fee increase in July that was intended to help the cash-strapped agency that processes most immigration applications.

However, a federal court in San Francisco temporarily blocked the agency from raising the cost of citizenship and other immigration applications, whose fees were set to increase at the end of the week.

Under the proposed fee increases, the cost of a citizenship application would have risen to $1,160 from $640, or more than 80%, and for the first time the U.S. would have charged a fee of $50 to file an asylum application. Most fee waivers for low-income immigrants would have been eliminated under the changes. A group of immigrant-advocacy organizations sued to stop the fee changes.

The new immigration fee schedule increases the costs for several family-based petitions and applications and would even add new types of fees. The proposal was initially published in the Federal Register on Thursday, November 14, 2019. That rule has now been finalized and will go into effect on October 2, 2020.

What’s more, USCIS has removed the reduced fee for children filing with parents. In the previous fee schedule, children receive a reduced fee if filing Form I-485 with a parent. USCIS is removing the $390 savings. Child applicants must now pay the same fees as adults.

The government typically raises immigration fees every two to four years to keep pace with inflation and rising costs. But immigrant advocates argued that the Trump administration’s changes were structured in such a way to discourage low-income immigrants from moving to the U.S. or from becoming American citizens.

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