Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) posted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to adjust certain immigration and naturalization benefit request fees. The new fees would allow USCIS to more fully recover its operating costs, reestablish and maintain timely case processing, and prevent the accumulation of future case backlogs.
The proposed rule follows USCIS’ comprehensive fee review, which determined that the agency’s current fees, in which have remained unchanged since 2016, fall far short of recovering the full cost of agency operations.
The proposed rule would increase some fees, including a modest increase in the fee for certain naturalization applications, while preserving existing fee waiver eligibility for low-income and vulnerable populations and adding new fee exemptions for certain humanitarian programs. If finalized, the proposed rule would decrease or minimally increase fees for more than one million low-income filers each year.
New measures include a proposal to incorporate biometrics costs into the main benefit fee and remove the separate biometric services fee; establish separate fees for each nonimmigrant classification covered by Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Workers; change the premium processing timeframe from 15 calendar days to 15 business days; and institute lower fees for certain forms filed online. The proposed rule would not change fee waiver eligibility requirements.
For more details, please see our new FAQs on the proposed fee rule.
USCIS typically receives 96 percent of its funding from filing fees, not from Congressional appropriations. In 2020, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic led to a dramatic reduction in receipts of new applications, resulting in a temporary drop in revenue by 40 percent. The combination of depleted cash reserves, a temporary hiring freeze, and workforce attrition has reduced the agency’s capacity to timely adjudicate cases, particularly as incoming caseloads rebound to pre-pandemic levels.
To Submit Comments
You may submit comments, identified by docket number USCIS-2021-0010, through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Please follow the instructions for submitting comments. All written comments are requested on or before March 6, 2023. DHS may not review comments submitted in a manner other than the one listed above, including emails or letters sent to DHS or USCIS officials. Fees will not change until the final rule goes into effect, after the public has had the opportunity to comment and USCIS finalizes the fee schedule in response to such comments.
This article is provided as an educational service and is not legal advice. Consult with an attorney for your specific circumstances. For a comprehensive evaluation of your immigration situation and options,