USCIS is Adjusting Fees to Meet Operating Needs

USCIS recently unveiled a potential rule that would increase petition fees significantly for victims of crime seeking to stay in America, undocumented immigrants seeking protection from deportation, and immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship.

The DHS (Department of Homeland Security) reported that it will increase U.S. citizenship application fees by 83 percent as part of its new rate plan for services. The agency’s new proposal includes reductions in some costs and significant increases elsewhere. As part of this new plan, the Trump administration recently suggested raising the application costs for immigrants who wish to stay in the United States. It’s the newest move by the administration to restrict opportunities for immigration and asylum benefits.

Why do USCIS Fees Change?

USCIS is funded by fees, unlike the majority of government agencies. USCIS is required by federal law to conduct fee reviews every two years and recommend adjustments as necessary to cover the costs of upholding the country’s immigration laws.

Once USCIS makes the rate plan public on the Federal Register, the public will have a 30-day period to give their opinion according to law. This plan began December 2nd, followed by the comment period. This rule would increase citizenship petition fees from $725 to $1,170 (or more for certain immigrants). It would also include a $495 work permit fee for those seeking asylum and a $50 cost for affirmative asylum applicants.

We’ll cover some of the specific fees that may increase or decrease accordingly. If you have any questions on obtaining asylum status or related immigration concerns, get in touch with the JacksonWhite Immigration Law Team as soon as possible.

USCIS Rate Increases and Decreases

Below, we’ll go over some of the specific forms and fees that may be impacted by the suggested changes:

Proposed Fee Increases

There may be a fee increase for the Application for Asylum Status (I-589), Notice of Appeal or Motion (Form I-290B), Permanent Residence Registration Application or Status Adjustment (Form I-485), Work Permit (I-765), DACA (Form I-821D), Naturalization Request Application (Form N-400), Petition to Cancel Residency (Form I-751), and Suspension of Deportation Requests (Form I-881).

Proposed Fee Decreases

There may be fee decreases for Biometric Services, the USCIS Immigrant Fee, Applications to Replace Residence Cards (Form I-90), Petitions for Nonimmigrant workers (Form I-129: H-2A and H-2B), Petition for a Foreign Fiancé (Form I-129F), Notice of Appeal Decision (Form I-612), Foreign Worker Immigrant Petitions (Form I-140), Family Unit Benefits Application (Form I-817), Application to Replace a Citizenship or Naturalization Document (Form N-565), and other forms.

Frequently Asked Questions on Asylum Status via USCIS

Below are some commonly asked questions regarding USCIS and asylum status:

Q: After I receive asylum, what is my official status?

A: After receiving asylum, you’ll be given “asylee status” along with an I-94 Arrival and Departure record. This form documents that you can stay in the United States indefinitely as an asylee. As long as you have this status, you’re authorized to work in the U.S. and can obtain photo identification evidencing this authorization from the USCIS (but must apply for an Employment Authorization Document to receive it).

Q: What other benefits can I receive after getting asylum status?

A: Asylees may apply for benefits such as cash and medical assistance, a Refugee Travel Document, assistance with employment, and a Social Security card, in addition to the Employment Authorization Document.

Q: Once my asylum status is granted, can it be terminated?

A: If you’ve obtained protection in another nation, don’t fear persecution in your home nation anymore due to different circumstances, or have engaged in criminal behavior that makes you ineligible, you can have your status terminated. Keep in mind that as an asylee, you aren’t a lawful permanent United States resident. However, you can apply to receive permanent resident status once you’ve been in the U.S. for a year after receiving asylum status.

Q: How is it decided whether or not I receive asylum status in the United States?

A: After you apply, an asylum officer will look at your testimony and the information you gave in addition to supplementary materials provided to determine whether or not you qualify as a refugee. They will also consider information about the condition of your country from relevant sources, case law, and other regulations and evaluate your claim’s credibility.

Q: How long will it take to find out whether I’ve been granted asylum status?

A: It usually takes two weeks from the date of your interview (and requires you to appear in person) to find out whether or not your request was granted. If you currently hold valid status, had your interview at a district location, or need to have your case reviewed by the staff at the Asylum Division Headquarters, processing times may take longer. If any of these circumstances apply to your situation, you’ll likely get the decision by mail.

Q: What does it mean to receive a recommended asylum status approval?

A: You’ll receive recommended status approval if an officer has chosen to preliminarily grant you asylum, but USCIS is still waiting for results from the confidential, required identity and background investigation. If the results of this investigation reveal information that compromises eligibility, you may be referred to an Immigration Judge or receive an asylum denial.

How an Attorney Can Help

There are a few different reasons why it’s a good idea to hire an immigration attorney when you’re applying for immigration benefits. The law on this topic is always changing and making even a small mistake can slow down the process significantly and make it harder to get benefits later. While you may save money in the short-term by forgoing legal advice, you may end up paying much more over time by needing to re-apply. Contact an immigration attorney as soon as possible to increase your odds of success.

Call our Immigration team at (480) 626-2388 to discuss your case today.

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Call our Immigration team at (480) 626-2388 or fill out the contact form to discuss your case today.

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