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USCIS Will Make Significant Fee Changes Starting in October

USCIS Fee Changes 2020

Starting on October 2, 2020, applicants requesting certain naturalization and immigration benefits should prepare for some changes to the current filing fees.

On July 31, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services announced its decision to implement a new rule which made significant changes to its current immigration filing fees and some other processes. Most of the existing immigration and naturalization filing fees were increased while a few others were reduced.

Changes Under the New Rule

Under this new rule, some immigration and naturalization applicants will see their fees nearly double from what it is currently. In addition to an increase in fees, there will also be some changes to the premium processing service timeline. At a glance, here is the summary of what the finalized new rule covers:

Nonimmigrant Work Visa Petitions

The new rule made two significant changes to the existing nonimmigrant work visa applications. The first is changes to the filing fees and the second is the separation of the popular Form I-129 into several different I-129 forms, depending on the type of specification. 

For example, the changes will impact classifications like the L-1 visa, which will also see an increased fee of up to 75%. To implement these changes, USCIS will release new forms for petitioning for an H-1B, H-1B1, H-2A, H-2B, TN, CW-1, or E visa. In the meantime, USCIS will give petitioners the grace period of 60 days during which both the newly updated and previous forms will be accepted as long as they are submitted with the new filing fees.

Additionally, employers with a large number of L-1 and H-1 employees will also have to pay a higher security fee. This specifically focuses on petitioners who have more than 50 employees with up to 50% of those employees being on L-1A, L-1B, or H-1B status. Currently, the fee for this service is $4,500 and $4,000 for L-1 and H-1B petitions respectively, and it is only for the initial filing. With this new rule, the fee is not changing, but employers will be required to pay for this service both during the initial application and filing of renewal/extension of stay. 

The following are some of the notable changes in work visa fees according to the new rule:

USCIS October 2020 Fee Changes

Changes in the Premium Processing Time

Apart from fee increases, the new rule also changes the long-standing premium processing turnaround time. Staring on October 2, the premium processing timeline will expand from 15 calendar days to 15 business days, which will be an average of 3 weeks instead of slightly over two weeks. It is also worth noting that USCIS reserves its authority to automatically increase the filing fee for premium processing annually, as allowed under the Immigration and Nationality Act, as long as the fee doesn’t exceed the Consumer Price Index.

Provisional Waivers

The filing fee for Form I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver will increase from $630 to $960.

Filing Fee Waivers

There will be a significant decrease in fee waivers that are issued, except for applicants that are enumerated by statute. USCIS will largely eliminate fee waivers for applications seeking Adjustment of Status, green card renewals and replacements, naturalization, and employment authorization. In particular, the agency will not allow fee waivers for applicants who are subject to an affidavit of support, those who are already sponsored immigrants, or those subject to public charge inadmissibility.

Affirmative Asylum Fee

There will be a fee of $50 for Form I-589, Applications for Asylum and for Withholding or Removal.

Permanent Visa and Adjustment of Status Petitions

In contrast to most of the employment-based nonimmigrant petitions, which will increase, the existing fees for petitions for permanent employment-based immigrant visas will decrease. The fee will be reduced by 21% from the current $700 to $555.

However, there will be an increase in the fee for Adjustment of Status (AOS) petitions. The current fee is $1,225 for most applicants. This cost covers things such as the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), advance parole, and the biometric fee. Additionally, the $1,225 also covers subsequent renewals of advance parole and the EAD as long as the AOS application is pending.

However, once the new rule becomes effective, the total package for the AOS application will be more than double as it will increase to $2,270. And applicants will also be required to pay a fee of $590 and $550 for their advance parole and EAD renewal applications, respectively. The new rule does not specify whether those who filed their AOS applications before October 2, 2020, will also be asked to pay the new fees for the renewals of their EAD or advance parole.

This new rule will also require young adjustment of status applicants (ages 14 and below) who are applying with a parent to pay a new fee of $1,130 once the rule becomes effective. This is a significant increase from the $750 that was previously required.

Filing Fee Discount

In order to encourage the use of online applications, USCIS will start offering a discount of $10 to applicants of certain immigration and naturalization processes who submit their application online instead of by mail. This includes applications for the renewal, extension, or replacement of a lawful permanent resident card (green card) as well as naturalization applications.

Biometric Fees

There will also be a change to the current $85 biometric service fee for all applications, including I-485 Adjustment of Status, I-539 Application to Extend or Change Status, and the N-400 Application for Naturalization. Under the new rule, USCIS will start incorporating the cost of biometric fees into the fee charged for those applications instead of requesting it separately. 

For the two cases where USCIS is not able to adjust the fee, a separate $30 biometric fee will be charged. The two case types are Temporary Protected Status (TPS) requests and Executive Office of Immigration Review appeals, motions, and benefit requests.

How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help

As new developments are released, we will continue to keep you up-to-date on the latest news concerning this new rule and other immigration and naturalization news. If you are concerned with how these new fees and changes will affect your current case, we can answer any questions you might have. To get in touch with our firm, you can fill out this contact form and schedule your consultation today.