Be a Fee Schedule Fighter: Join Us in Opposing the Administration’s Latest Wealth Test on Immigrants | CLINIC

Be a Fee Schedule Fighter: Join Us in Opposing the Administration’s Latest Wealth Test on Immigrants

Home » Be a Fee Schedule Fighter: Join Us in Opposing the Administration’s Latest Wealth Test on Immigrants

The USCIS proposed fee schedule was published on Nov. 14, and the comment period now ends on Dec. 30. Additional information will be posted on this page and distributed through CLINIC’s Agency Updates listserve as it becomes available. Sign up for CLINIC listserves here and check back on this page often.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, announced its new proposed fee schedule on Nov. 8, 2019, with an official publication date of Nov. 14, 2019. The proposed changes include new and/or increased fees for adjustment of status, asylum, DACA renewals and naturalization. The proposed rule also seeks to eliminate critical fee waivers that allow vulnerable immigrants to maintain their status and progress in their immigration journey.

The proposed fee changes place the burden of USCIS mismanagement on the backs of hardworking immigrants and their families.

The proposed rule was officially published on Nov. 14 with a 30-day public comment period, but the comment period has since been extended to Dec. 30. CLINIC encourages network agencies and partners to voice your opposition to these harmful proposals. On this page, you can find links to analysis of the proposed rule, as well as information on how you can stand with immigrants by opposing USCIS’s proposed fee schedule.

 

Webinar

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released its proposal to adjust certain immigration benefit fees including naturalization, family-based petitions, adjustment of status and travel documents on Nov. 8, 2019. While the biennial fee review has been expected, the proposed changes include new fees for applicants for asylum and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, renewals that are garnering broad opposition.

 

What Will Change Under the Proposed Rule

Adjustment of Status to Lawful Permanent Residency- Currently, an adjustment of status application costs $1,225 for most applicants. The current fee includes the cost of concurrently filed applications for work and travel authorization. USCIS is proposing to separate the filing fees for these applications and increase the total price of that package to $2,195.

Affirmative Asylum - USCIS is proposing to impose a new fee of $50 on applications for asylum. If this fee were to go into effect, the United States would be only the fourth country in the world to levy such a fee on asylum seekers.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA - USCIS is proposing to include a new fee for DACA renewals of $275. Currently, renewing DACA requesters pay $410 for employment authorization and $85 for biometrics. However, USCIS is proposing to raise the employment authorization fee to $490 and to roll the biometrics fee into the proposed $275 I-821D fee. Thus, the cost of a DACA renewal will increase from $495 to $765, an overall increase of 55 percent.  

Fee Waivers - USCIS is proposing to slash existing fee waivers except for those enumerated by statute (i.e., VAWA self-petitioners, battered spouses of certain nonimmigrants, U visas, T visas and TPS). Among the fee waivers largely eliminated are those for applications for naturalization, adjustment of status, green card replacement and renewals (Form I-90) and employment authorization.

Naturalization - USCIS is proposing to increase the naturalization applications (Form N-400) fee 83 percent, raising the fee from $640 to $1,170. Additionally, USCIS is proposing to eliminate the Form N-400 Reduced Fee as well as fee waivers for the N-400. This will increase the burden on low-income immigrants seeking to naturalize, delaying their access to the American dream for that much longer.

Transfer of USCIS Funds to Enforcement Agencies - USCIS is largely funded by its Immigration Examinations Fee Account, or IEFA. The IEFA is meant to be used for “expenses in providing immigration adjudication and naturalization services[.]” INA § 286(n). However, USCIS plans to transfer $207.6 million from IEFA to ICE for use in enforcement, despite not only IEFA’s clear purpose, but also the staggering backlog of cases that USCIS has yet to adjudicate.

 

What Will Stay the Same Under the Proposed Rule

Fee waivers will remain available for VAWA self-petitioners, battered spouses of certain nonimmigrants, U visa applicants, T visa applicants and TPS applicants.

 

Why USCIS is Proposing Changes to Its Fee Schedule

Federal law requires that the Chief Financial Officer of an agency “review, on a biennial basis, the fees . . . imposed by the agency for services and things of value it provides, and make recommendations on revising those charges to reflect costs incurred by it in providing those services and things of value.” 31 U.S.C. § 902(a)(8) (2019). In other words, every two years, USCIS must review the fees it charges and update those fees to ensure that USCIS is charging an appropriate amount.

CLINIC opposes USCIS’s proposed fee schedule changes. We need your help to prevent USCIS from delaying so many vulnerable and hardworking immigrants’ long-held American dreams. Our Catholic identity calls us to take a stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters “yearning to breathe free.”

 

Analysis

The changes in the USCIS fee schedule will have a disparate impact on low-income immigrants and vulnerable populations.  Fees for naturalization, adjustment of status, DACA and asylum are all increasing. Fee waivers are largely being eliminated, with some statutory exceptions.

Benefit Sought

Current Fees

Proposed Fees

Net Difference

% Change

Naturalization

$640

$1,170

$530

83%

Adjustment of Status

$1,225

$2,195

$970

79%

Asylum

N/A

$50

$50

N/A

DACA

$495

$765

$270

55%

Raising prices and eliminating waivers make applying for vital immigration benefits harder for low-income immigrants. The sharp increase in fees for naturalization and adjustment of status will likely deter immigrants from naturalizing or adjusting status, and increases in DACA renewal fees will further disadvantage young immigrants. Additionally, the imposition of a fee for affirmative asylum applicants places yet another burden on some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

While statutorily enumerated fee waivers remain in place, this proposed fee schedule will eliminate most existing fee waivers. This, too, increases the burden on particularly vulnerable non-citizens seeking immigration benefits.

Immigration benefits should remain accessible, regardless of an immigrant’s socioeconomic background. Join CLINIC in standing up for our immigrant brothers and sisters by opposing USCIS’s proposed fee schedule increases.

More detailed analysis coming soon.

 

Model Comments

 

Submit a comment through our "click-to-comment" tools, which can be easily shared on the social media. We encourage agencies and organizations to share with their networks, volunteers and clients.

(NOTE: CLINIC’s click-to-comment campaigns will close at 4 p.m. ET, Friday, Dec. 13.)

 

 

I Oppose a Wealth Test on American Citizenship!

 

I Oppose a Fee for Asylum!

CLINIC has prepared a template comment in opposition to the proposed rule addressing the changes that would most significantly burden programs serving low-income immigrants, including significant fees increase for naturalization and family-based green cards, the elimination of full and partial fee waivers, the increase in fees for DACA renewal applications, and the new fee for affirmative asylum. This template is intended for use by agencies that provide direct services to immigrants and is intended to be adapted to reflect your organization and clients’ concerns.

Page last updated: November 25, 2019

This guide provides an overview of the federal rulemaking process and information about how you can participate. Engaging in administrative advocacy ensures that we are using all avenues to fight for immigrants and will more effectively amplify our collective voice.

Page last updated: November 14, 2019

 

Advocacy Tools

This toolkit highlights the harm the USCIS proposed fee policy could have on states and localities, and offers arguments governors, mayors, and other officials may use in developing comments in opposition. It also suggests additional steps officials can take to support impacted residents.

Page last updated: November 22, 2019

Use this flyer for outreach in your community to raise awareness of USCIS' proposed fee schedule changes that would drastically increase fees for commonly sought immigration benefits such as naturalization, green cards, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and impose a new fee for affirmative asylum.

Page last updated: November 18, 2019

This toolkit contains sample social media and talking points to help organizations and individuals raise awareness of the USCIS proposed fee schedule and to put out press statements and op-eds. The toolkit also features click-to-comment links for individuals to submit public comments. The toolkit contains secular values-based messaging as well as messaging for Catholic and interfaith voices.

Page last updated: November 22, 2019

Review these instructions to see a visual how-to guide for submitting a public comment on regulations.gov.

Page last updated: September 30, 2019

 

Outreach to the Administration

USCIS’ Acting Director Kenneth Cuccinelli responded to over 150 advocates’ request that the agency provide a 60-day comment period for the public to respond to USCIS’ proposal to change its fee schedule. Acting Director Cuccinelli stated that USCIS will only provide a 30-day comment period to respond to its 300+ page proposal.

Page last updated: December 3, 2019

On Nov. 12, 2019, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., with over 150 organizations, agencies and local governments, delivered a letter to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Acting Director Kenneth Cuccinelli and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Acting Administrator Paul Ray, urgently requesting a 60-day comment period for the public to respond to USCIS’ proposal to change its fee schedule. 

Page last updated: November 13, 2019

 

Why This Matters

This report by CLINIC staff members explains why access to citizenship matters and strengthens America.

Page last updated: November 14, 2019

 

 

Media

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — A new package of dramatic increases in the cost to apply for naturalization, get a green card or renew DACA could have devastating consequences for low-income immigrants.

Page last updated: November 15, 2019

 

 

Planning for Your Legal Services Program

More information coming soon.