On Friday, July 31st, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a significant adjustment to its fee schedule for immigrant benefits, published in a final rule by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). All petitions and applications postmarked on or after October 2, 2020 must be filed with the new fees.
As outlined in our alert from last November, when these regulatory changes were first proposed by the DHS, the new fee schedule adjusts fees by a weighted average increase of 21% to cover the agency’s increased costs to adjudicate immigration benefit requests, detect and deter immigration fraud, and thoroughly vet applicants, petitioners, and beneficiaries. In addition, the USCIS has changed certain requirements for applications, including changes to premium processing and establishing different fees for petitions for nonimmigrant workers under H, L, TN, and O. We have outlined some of these key changes below.
Biometrics fees will no longer be separate fees, and will now be incorporated into the underlying immigration benefit request fees.
Changes to Premium Processing
Premium processing requests will now take up to 15 business days to be adjudicated, instead of 15 calendar days.
Separate Classification-Based Fees for Form I-129
Currently, the filing fee for Form I-129 is $460 for all temporary nonimmigrant worker classifications. The new fee schedule will create separate fees and forms for each classification filed on the Form I-129 petition.
Fees for Adjustment of Status Application with EAD and Advance Parole Requests
The bundled fee for Form I-485 Application to Adjust Status and the interim benefits for work authorization (EAD) and advance parole (travel document) will be removed. Per the new fee schedule, there will be separate filing fees for Form I-765 (EAD) and Form I-131 advance parole filed concurrently with a Form I-485, or after USCIS accepts their Form I-485 and while it is still pending. In addition, the DHS has eliminated the Form I-485 fee of $750 for minor children, and the new I-485 fee will apply to all applicants, regardless of age.
Fees for EAD/AP and Adjustment of Status with Interim Benefits
83% Fee Increase for N-400, Application for Naturalization
The fee for Form N-400, Application for Naturalization will change from $640 to $1,170, an 83% increase. DHS proposed the 83% to recover the full cost of adjudicating the Form N–400, stating: “In crafting prior fee rules, DHS reasoned that setting the Form N-400 fee at an amount less than its estimated costs and shifting those costs to other fee payers was appropriate in order to promote naturalization and immigrant integration. DHS now believes that shifting costs to other applicants in this manner is not equitable given the significant increase in Form N-400 filings in recent years.”