In accordance with federal law, USCIS is required to evaluate the current fees every two years based on the costs of completing and adjudicating immigration services. December 23, 2016 was the last time the agency published an adjusted fee schedule. In response to the fee review, the Department of Homeland Security on January 4, 2023 proposed a rule to adjust the fees in order to meet operational costs, timely adjudicate naturalization benefits, and cut down on backlogs. Other facets of the proposed rule include: \tAdding new fee exemptions for some humanitarian programs; \tPreserving existing fee waiver eligibility for low-income and vulnerable populations but not allowing non-form written requests for fee waivers; \tEliminating fee exemptions based only of the age of the person making the request; \tEliminating the $30 returned check fee; \tRemoving the separate biometric services fee and incorporating the biometrics cost into the main benefit fee; \tRequiring separate filing fees for Form I-485, Form I-131 and I-765; \tAdjusting the premium processing time frame to business days instead of calendar days; \tLimiting the number of named beneficiaries on certain petitions for nonimmigrant workers; \tA clarification that USCIS will not redeposit payments returned unpayable for any other reason than insufficient funds; \tNoting that fees paid with a credit card to USCIS are not subject to dispute, chargeback, refund or return except by USCIS' discretion; \tEnacting lower fees for some online form filings; \tIncreasing the fee for naturalization up $35 for a total of $760 (includes combining the application fee with the biometric service fee for simplified filing); \tLimiting the fee increase for naturalization applicants; and \tDistributing fees based primarily on the filers’ ability to pay. Why have operational costs increased so much to warrant the fee increases? A number of factors in the biennial fee review are responsible for the increased operational costs. Some of these include: \tExpanded humanitarian programs \tGreater demand for services \tLonger processing times \tShortage of USCIS employees to meet demand With the current budget, USCIS has determined they can not provide the level of service necessary to meet the needs of applicants. Proposed Expanded Fee Exemptions The proposed rule would classify fee exemptions for a number of humanitarian benefit requests. Additional fee exemptions for certain humanitarian-based immigration requests would include: \tAll forms for T nonimmigrant status through the final adjudication of the adjustment to LPR; \tAll forms for U nonimmigrant status up until (however not including) Form I-485; \tForms for VAWA-based Form I-360 filing through the AOS application, including filing Form I-290B; \tForms for abused spouses and children seeking protection under NACARA filed through final adjudication for AOS to LPR, including the Application for Suspension of Deportation or Special Rule Cancellation of Removal and associated forms; \tAll forms for Special Immigrant Juveniles through the final adjudication of AOS application, including Form I-485; \tForm I-131, Application for Travel Document for individuals paroled or admitted as refugees, including LPRS who received status as refugees in the U.S. Proposed H-1B Registration Fee Increase The current H-1B registration fee is $10. DHS proposed increasing the registration fee to $215 based on the review. DHS proposed a $10 fee to provide an initial stream of revenue to mitigate potential fiscal effects on USCIS. Following implementation of the registration fee provided for in this rule, USCIS will gather data on the costs and burdens of administering the registration process in its next biennial fee review to determine whether a fee adjustment is necessary to ensure full cost recovery. USCIS Plans for Proposed Budget The table below is a summary of the FY2022/2023 Fee Rule Budget from the FY2016/2017 Fee Rule Budget: Since this is a proposed rule that in not automatically in effect yet, the agency grants a 60-day period in which the public can comment on the proposed fee adjustments. The official USCIS fee schedule will only go into effect when a final rule is published. A virtual public listening session was available to the public to ask USCIS questions about this proposed rule on January 11, 2023. Where Does Funding Come From? About 96% of funding comes from applicants through filing fees. In FY 2022, Congress appropriated an additional $275 million to "reduce current backlogs and advance our humanitarian mission...Going forward, USCIS will require continued Congressional support to eliminate our current backlogs, and USCIS’ intention is that the new fee rule will allow USCIS to keep pace with incoming inventories and avoid future backlogs." Submitting Comments About the Proposed Rule All comments on the proposed rule must be submitted by midnight EST on March 6, 2023 via the electronic Docket Management System. DHS Docket No. USCIS-2021-0010, through the Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. Comments submitted via email or mail about the proposed rule will not be considered. If you cannot use the portal to submit your comment contact Samantha Deshommes, Chief, Regulatory Coordination Division, Office of Policy and Strategy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, by telephone at (202) 658-9621 for alternate instructions.