Higher immigration fees are on the way and advocates and experts are urging immigrants to act fast to avoid the hikes. USCIS reviews its fees every two years and fee increases are nothing new. However, proposed fees for green cards and citizenship applications this year are historically high.
Recent Reviews of the USCIS Fees
The Department of Homeland Security conducts reviews of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) fees to ensure that costs don’t exceed income. The latest review saw significant increases in the proposed fees for most common types of applications for immigration. The cost for an ordinary citizenship application, for instance, could rise as much as 83% from $640 to $1,170. The cost of a green card could skyrocket to $2,750.
Overall, prices for all types of applications could see an increase of around twenty percent. However, the individuals who will suffer from these prices the most will be ordinary people who wish to apply for benefits, the reasons for which are still unclear, while businesses will have to pay much smaller fees.
The new changes would also require individuals applying for asylum in the U.S. to pay a fee for the first time in the nation’s history. They will also need to pay $490 to receive a work permit, even if they haven’t earned any income yet from working legally in the U.S.
What Is the Reason for the Changes?
According to USCIS’s report, there are three main reasons for the new changes and increasing fees. These include:
- The transfer of funding to ICE from USCIS through fees for green card applications, which are used to cover immigration enforcement costs such as detention and removal.
- Increased income for current USCIS staff and future employees.
- The higher cost of vetting and administrative overhead.
Despite these reasons listed in the USCIS report, the increases seem to be unusually high considering the fees already increased in 2017 by twenty percent when the USCIS budget was around $3.3 billion, while the projected costs for 2020 will be around $4.6 billion. As costs continue to rise for applicants, the USCIS has slowed the application review process, as year-long backlogs are far from unusual.
These increased costs can be detrimental to many applicants who wish to live and work in the U.S. With these upcoming changes in mind, immigrants are advised to act fast to avoid getting hit with these costs.