Most USCIS Filing Fees to Increase on Dec 23, 201603 Nov 2016
On October 24, 2016 the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) posted a notice in the Federal Register announcing an increase in filing fees for most types of immigration filings. These fee increases are scheduled to go into effect December 23, 2016.
USCIS Rationale for Fee Increase
The primary source of funding for the USCIS is the filing fees collected by the agency. As explained in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, USCIS Proposes Significant Increase in Filing Fees (16.May.2016), the USCIS determined that a fee increase was necessary in order to avoid a budget shortfall in the coming years. The fee increase was proposed on May 4, 2016 and was made final on October 24, 2016.
Timing and Percentage of Fee Increase
Pursuant to the final rule, USCIS filing fees will increase by a weighted average of 21 percent. Any petitions or applications received by the USCIS on or after December 23, 2016 will have to include the fee set under the new rule. Examples of commonly used forms that will see fee increases are:
|Case Type||Current Fee||New Fee|
|I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker||$ 325||$ 460|
|I-130, Petition for Alien Relative||$ 420||$ 535|
|I-131, Application for Travel Document||$ 360||$ 575|
|I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker||$ 580||$ 700|
|I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status||$ 985||$ 1,140|
|I-539, Application to Extend / Change Nonimmigrant Status||$ 290||$ 370|
|I-765, Application for Employment Authorization||$ 380||$ 410|
|N-400, Application for Naturalization||$ 595||$ 640|
A complete list of the fees for all immigration applications and a side-by-side comparison of the old and new fees can be found on the USCIS website.
Establishes Three-Levels of Fees for Naturalization Applications
The final rule also establishes a new three-tier fee system for applications for naturalization (form N-400). The first tier is the standard application fee, which will increase from $595 to $640. The second tier will be for those who have a family income greater than 150 percent, but not more than 200 percent, of the federal poverty guidelines; these applicants will pay a reduced fee of $320. The final tier be for those who meet certain U.S. military service requirements or for those who are granted a fee waiver based on having an income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines; these applicants will not be charged any fee.
Given that the chief source of funding for the USCIS is filing fees, the occasional fee increase is inevitable. It has been six years since the USCIS last raised its fees. So, it is reasonable to conclude that these newly set fees will remain in place for at least a few years.
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