As we wrote in a previous blog, USCIS published a proposed rule that will raise fees for most applications. After a comment period that ended on July 5, 2016, the final rule will be published in the Federal Register on October 24, 2016. The new fee schedule will go into effect 60 days from publishing on December 23, 2016.
The new fees show little to no change from the earlier proposed rule, despite numerous comments submitted from individuals, organizations, public policy groups, and members of Congress who felt the increases were either too steep or unfair. So, what are the highlights of the new rule and what can applicants expect moving forward?
Notable Increased Fees
The new fee schedule shows an average increase of 21% across all applications. However, this ranges from applications with no change to others with steep increases of 100% or more (for example, Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, will jump from a $1,500 filing fee to $3,675). Some commonly filed applications that will see an increase:
- Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker – $460 (currently $325)
- Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative – $535 (currently $420)
- Form I-131, Application for Travel Document – $575 (currently $360)
- Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker – $700 (currently $580)
- Form I-485, Application for Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status – $1,140 (currently $985)
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization – $410 (currently $380)
- Form N-400, Application for Naturalization – $640 (currently $595)
- Form N-600, Application for Certification of Citizenship – $1,170 (currently $600)
The USCIS Immigrant Fee, which Immigrant Visa beneficiaries pay for issuance of their Permanent Resident Card upon entry to the United States, will also increase from $165 to $200.
Three-Level Fee for Form N-400
Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, will see an increase in its standard fee from $595 to $640. However, applicants who meet the requirements of Immigration and Nationality Act sections 328 (U.S. military service during peacetime) or 329 (U.S. military service during hostilities) will continue to be exempt from the N-400 filing fee, as well as applicants with approved fee waivers. Finally, USCIS will charge a reduced filing fee of $320 for naturalization applicants with a family income greater than 150% and not more than 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
USCIS Rejections for Dishonored Checks or Missing Biometric Fees
The new rule will also remove regulatory provisions at 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(ii)(D) that prevent USCIS from rejecting an immigration or naturalization benefit request paid with a dishonored check or lacking the required biometric services fee until the applicant has been provided an opportunity to correct the deficient payment. Under the final rule, USCIS will submit all initially rejected payments to the applicant’s bank account a second time for it to clear or be rejected. If the check is rejected again following resubmission by USCIS, the case will be rejected for fee nonpayment. If the case is approved and the payment discrepancy is discovered later, USCIS will send a notice of intent to revoke the approval.