USCIS raises prices for immigration services: What you need to know

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is short of funds because of the coronavirus pandemic and the shutdown of much of the immigration process, so it plans to raise fees for immigration services, Law360 writes.

USCIS, which is funded by fees paid by immigrants and their employers, is facing a “dramatic drop in revenue” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the agency itself said.

Immigration has requested $1.2 billion in emergency funding from Congress, and to recoup that money, the agency plans to raise fees by 10 percent for immigration services, some of which already cost $1,000-plus.

“Importantly, this funding proposal protects American taxpayers by not increasing the deficit and requiring USCIS to return the money to the U.S. Treasury,” an agency spokesman said May 17.

USCIS said the agency warned Congress of its financial problems May 15, predicting a 61 percent drop in visa applications by the end of the fiscal year.

Without help from Congress, USCIS “will have to take decisive action to keep the agency afloat,” the Service said.

The drop in revenue comes as the immigration agency, which handles green card, citizenship and visa requests, has limited service during the coronavirus pandemic. USCIS has suspended expedited processing of temporary work visas and green cards, as well as all in-person interviews. Naturalization ceremonies have also been halted.

In their latest proposed legislation, passed on the evening of May 15, Democrats in the House of Representatives called for remote naturalization ceremonies. In the Republican-controlled Senate, the bill ran into problems.

The Trump administration has abruptly halted immigration in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and related high unemployment in the United States, including suspending immigration processes for some potential immigrants, including relatives of permanent residents and parents of U.S. citizens who are eligible for green cards.

The administration is also considering additional restrictions on new nonimmigrant visas, such as the H-1B visa for foreign workers.

In the fall of 2019, USCIS announced plans to raise application fees across the board by 83%. For example, according to the November proposal, the citizenship application fee would rise from $640 to $1170. The same proposal also announced the introduction of the first-ever fee for applying for asylum in the United States. The proposal, however, is still pending and has been put on hold because of the pandemic.

Here is the current USCIS immigration fee (without the 10% they plan to add):

I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card $455;
I-129/129CW Petition for a Nonimmigrant worker – $460;
I-129F Petition for Alien FiancĂ©(e) – $535;
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative – $535;
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker – $700;
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status – $1140;
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status – $370;
I-698 Application to Adjust Status From Temporary to Permanent Resident – $1670;
I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence – $535;
N-400 Application for Naturalization – $640;
N-600/N-600K Application for Certificate of Citizenship – $1170;
USCIS Immigrant Fee – $220;
Biometric Services Fee – $85.
For a complete list of immigration services and prices, visit the USCIS website.

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