U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that the filing fees for most immigration filings and services will increase by an average of 21% as of December 23, 2016. USCIS will reject any immigration benefit request received on or after December 23, that does not include the new filing fee.
USCIS’s operations are funded almost entirely by the fees paid by applicants and petitioners for immigration benefits. Although the agency conducts fee reviews to determine funding levels every two years, fees have not increased since 2010.
The chart below highlights the changes in some of the most commonly filed applications and petitions. The full list of forms and related filing fees can be found on USCIS’s website. There will be no increase in the Premium Processing fee ($1,225), the biometrics fee ($85), or several other fees that are set by Congress. In recognition of the burden that the filing fees have on some applicants, USCIS will continue to consider fee waivers in certain circumstances.
One of the primary concerns any time USCIS raises fees is that the cost of filing the N-400 form puts the dream of obtaining U.S. citizenship out of reach for many eligible individuals. To address this concern, USCIS will create a three-level fee for the N-400 application. The standard fee will increase to $640 (not including the required biometrics fee). USCIS will also continue to exempt certain military members and those who qualify for a fee waiver. Finally, USCIS will reduce the fee to $320 for applicants whose household income is between 150% and 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
The rule implementing the fee increase also includes a change in how USCIS processes applications when a fee payment is dishonored or refused by the payer’s bank. Instead of processing the application or petition while giving the applicant the opportunity to correct the payment, USCIS will now reject any application or petition if the payment is dishonored after being presented twice to the appropriate bank.
If the application or petition has already been approved when the payment is rejected the second time, USCIS will notify the applicant or petitioner that it will revoke the approval for non-payment. Unless the applicant or petitioner can demonstrate that the payment was, in fact, honored, the benefit will be revoked.
As always, please contact us with any questions.
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