On July 31, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it is implementing unprecedented fee increases for numerous immigration applications starting on October 2, 2020. The increases are expected to price people out of vital immigration benefits including naturalization and asylum. The Trump Administration is implementing these increases despite strong national opposition to the proposal from legal services organizations, state and local governments, businesses, faith-based groups and others, including SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center, who submitted thousands of comments citing the harm these increases would cause to low-income and vulnerable immigrants, especially those fleeing violence and persecution.
The final rule will increase the citizenship by naturalization application cost by 83 percent and eliminates fee waivers for all applicants unless they meet one of five victim-based or statutory exceptions. For the first time in U.S. history, our country will charge a fee to those seeking refuge from violence and persecution, joining a group of only three other countries to do so.
Louise Pocock, Immigration Policy Attorney with SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center, notes that “these unprecedented fee increases are just another brick in the wall of policies, such as the recently blocked public charge rule, that the Trump Administration has implemented with the goal of make it all but impossible for low-income, hardworking, immigrant families to achieve their dream of U.S. residency and citizenship.” The only upside to the new rule is that USCIS did not increase fees for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal applications as originally proposed.
We urge anyone who is eligible for naturalization or other immigration benefits to apply now, before the fee increase goes into effect October 2, 2020. If you need help finding low cost or pro-bono immigration attorney in your area, the Immigration Advocates Network has an online lawyer search tool available in multiple languages. You can find local private immigration attorneys by using the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) lawyer online search tool available in English and Spanish.