A federal judge in Northern California approved a motion temporarily blocking fee hikes on some immigration paperwork, including an 83% increase in the cost to process a naturalization application and a previously non-existent $50 fee to file asylum applications. The increases would have taken effect on October 2, 2020.
The Judge Jeffrey Steven White ruled in his decision. that the administration of President Donald Trump did not follow established guidelines in proposing and attempting to implement changes to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processing fees.
Although it was issued in California, the ruling of the Judge White is valid throughout the country.
What does the ruling mean?
The ruling means that people who have to complete immigration procedures will still be able to pay the fees. without the proposed increases.
Today, USCIS, which had proposed and justified increases to cover the operational costs associated with the proceedings, acknowledged the judge's order and announced that it will continue to accept forms for proceedings at the current rates.
Some of the rate changes are:
- The paperwork to become a U.S. citizen would go up from the current $$640 to $$1,170 - an increase of $83%.
- Petition for a qualifying relative of a U-1 nonimmigrant from $230 to $1.485 - an increase from 546%.
- Passport and/or Visa Waiver Application from $585 to $2,790 - an increase of 377%.
- Application for Suspension of Deportation or Cancellation of Removal by Special Rule (Pursuant to Section 203 of Public Law 105-100 (NACARA)) from $285 to $1.810 - an increase from 535%.
- The rule included the creation of a new fee of $$50 to process an asylum application.
Judge White's motion is in response to a lawsuit filed last August 21 by a coalition of eight organizations headed by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (Immigrant Legal Resource Center, ILRC) and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (American Immigration Lawyers Association, AILA), with the assistance of international law firm Sidley Austin LLPagainst the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and USCIS.
The decision on this lawsuit is still pending. It is important to emphasize that the block is temporary until there is a final ruling on the lawsuit.
It is possible that fee increases may be allowed in the future. Therefore, if eligible persons are considering immigration proceedings, they should act immediately and file their applications.