For the first time since 2010, the Department of Homeland Security has effectuated increases in a range of administrative filing fees for immigration applications. In particular, the fees for approximately three dozen immigration and naturalization applications have incurred significant increases. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that oversees and processes immigration applications, said in a statement that “the proceeds will help cover detecting fraud, processing cases and a range of other administrative costs.” Indeed, USCIS called the increase a “weighted average” price hike of 21 percent. Any new applications or petitions mailed, postmarked, or otherwise filed after December 23, 2016 will not be accepted unless they include the higher fees.
Perhaps the greatest fee hike is for the Application for Certificate of Citizenship (N-600) which has increased from $600 to $1,170. Other important fee increases include the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (I-485), which has increased from $985 to $1,140, the Petition for an Alien Relative (I-130), which has increased from $420 to $535; the Immigrant Petition for an Alien Worker (I-140), which has increased from $580 to $700; and the Application for Naturalization (N-400), which has increased from $595 to $640.
While fees are increasing, there are concerns that processing times will likewise increase. There are already excessive adjudication times for applications for employment authorization, temporary visas for artists and entertainers, DACA renewals, extension of status for specialty occupation H-1B workers, and others. At the Shulman Law Group, we are on the pulse of all administrative changes so that our immigration clients will be well informed of all of the fee increases and potential processing wait times. In addition, our staff is keenly aware and mindful that these fee increases may adversely impact our clients and we are poised to assist applicants with military service and those meeting federal poverty guidelines to apply for exemptions or for a request for reduced fees.