US Proposes Raising Immigration, Naturalization Fees

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) aims to raise revenue collection from the proposed measures to more than $3 million

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January 05, 2023 | 03:10 PM

Bloomberg Línea — US President Joe Biden’s administration has presented a proposal that seeks to increase the costs of work visa applications, with the objective of organizing the accounts of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The new regulation would increase some fees, including certain naturalization applications, and which had not been increased since 2016.

It would also preserve existing fee waiver eligibility for low-income and vulnerable populations and add new fee waivers for certain humanitarian programs.

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If the proposal is passed, the USCIS is expected to generate an average of $3.28 million during FY2023. If premium processing is added to that, total fee revenue should average $4.5 million per year.

This would generate an additional $1.9 million, exceeding the current $4.5 million.

During 2020, with the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a drastic reduction in the receipt of new applications, resulting in a 40% drop in revenue at USCIS. This was compounded by depleted cash reserves, a temporary hiring freeze, and workforce attrition, resulting in a significant backlog in visa administration.

“In addition to improving customer service operations and managing the incoming workload, USCIS must continue to fulfill our growing humanitarian mission, upholding fairness, integrity, and respect for all we serve,” said USCIS director Ur M. Jaddou. “This proposed rule allows USCIS to more fully recover operating costs for the first time in six years and will support the Administration’s effort to rebuild the legal immigration system.”

Main modifications

  • Biometric costs will be incorporated into the primary benefit fee and the separate biometric services fee will be eliminated.
  • Separate fees will be established for each nonimmigrant classification covered by the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker.
  • Change the premium processing time from 15 calendar days to 15 business days.
  • Lower fees will be instituted for some forms filed online.
  • No change to fee waiver eligibility requirements.
  • Existing fee waiver eligibility for low-income and vulnerable populations will be preserved.
  • New fee waivers will be added for certain humanitarian programs.
  • The fee increase for naturalization applicants will be limited.
  • Fee distribution will be based on filers’ ability to pay.
  • It is estimated that the proposal would affect more than one million low-income taxpayers.
Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, DHS.dfd

The 60-day public comment period starts following publication of the NPRM in the Federal Register. 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. USCIS will host a public engagement session on the proposed fee rule on January 11, 2023.