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Federal Judge Blocks USCIS Fee Increase

USCIS Fee Increase

A U.S. District Court judge blocked the USCIS fee increase that was to take place starting October 2, 2020. The fee increase would’ve affected every business, organization, and individual that uses USCIS’s services.

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Why Was the USCIS Fee Increase Blocked?

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted the motion for a preliminary injunction filed by eight non-profit organizations. The non-profit organizations that provide a variety of “services benefitting low-income applicants for immigration benefits.” Judge Jeffrey S. White stated four reasons he granted the injunction.

  1. The plaintiffs would likely prevail in their case where they argue the current head of the Department of Homeland Security was not legally appointed and therefore had no authority to implement the rule.
  2. The government failed to provide any data defending the argument that fee increases would deter people from using USCIS’s services
  3. The government failed to considered low-income immigrant populations in their fee increases.
  4. USCIS did not adequately explain why they eliminated fee waivers when they decided to increase fees.

Judge White also stated that:

  • Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. section 705 the Court STAYS implementation and the effective date of USCIS Immigration Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements, 85 Fed. Reg. 46,788 (Aug. 3, 2020) (the “Final Rule”) in its entirety pending final adjudication of this matter.
  • Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65, Defendants Wolf, in his official capacity under the title of Acting Secretary of DHS; Cuccinelli, in his official capacity under the title of Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary of DHS; DHS; and USCIS, and all persons acting under their direction, ARE ENJOINED from implementing or enforcing the Final Rule or any portion thereof.
  • This preliminary injunction and stay shall take effect immediately and shall remain in effect pending trial in this action or further of this Court. The government won’t be able to implement the fees pending the outcome of the lawsuit brought by the immigration groups, but the agency could appeal Tuesday’s decision with the 9th Circuit to obtain a Stay of the injunction which will likely take time and the outcome is unknown at this time.

You can read the full decision here.

What Fees Were Being Increased?

Nearly all USCIS fees were scheduled to be changed on October 2. Some fees were increasing as much as 85%. However, there were some decreases in certain forms as well. Heavily used forms like the I-130, I-485, I-129, N-400, and I-129 would’ve all seen increases.

Along with the increases, there were other operational changes. Premium processing was going to change from 15 calendar days to 15 business days. Also, the I-129 was not only going to see a fee increase but being split into several different forms for different employment visas.

Does This Mean Fees Will Stay the Same?

At the moment fees will stay as they are, but the government will likely seek an appeal of the decision but no one can predict when that might take place or if they will be successful.

So Then We Don’t Have to Worry About This For A While. Correct?

As we’ve seen with the public charge decision and USCIS furloughs, changes in immigration laws, regulations, and operations can change from one day to the next. It’s important to stay in contact with your immigration attorney regarding latest immigration updates. You can also bookmark our website for update-to-date information on all immigration-related matters. If you have more specific questions, feel free to schedule a consultation with us here.