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USCIS Announced Fee Increases and Process Changes Effective on October 2, 2020


Recently, USCIS announced fee increases and process changes that are to become effective on October 2, 2020. 

From March to June, USCIS paused most in-person services. As a result, USCIS has experienced a dramatic fall in all immigration applications, which in turn resulted in a sharp drop in the application fees that are used to fund t
he agency. On July 31, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced an adjustment to the filing fees on a variety of applications in order to avoid staff furloughs as USCIS wouldn’t be able to survive without additional funding.

Then, on August 3, 2020, USCIS officially announced the implementation of new fees, which significantly increased the cost of filing by a weighted average increment of 20 percent. The new list contains many changes that impact applicants for visas, such as multiple fees for nonimmigrant worker petitions and limiting the number of beneficiaries for each form. Nevertheless, the changes will not affect all immigration benefits equally: the fees for some forms are set to increase drastically (for example, L visas will see a 75% increase in its fees), whereas fees for some forms, such as the I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers), are set to decrease. DHS also announced updates on premium processing, the Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) and I-485 Adjustment of Status applications. 

This rule is effective on October 2, 2020. Any application, petition, or request postmarked on or after this date must include payment of the new, correct fees established by this final rule.


The following is a sample of the fee changes scheduled to take effect for some of the most commonly used immigration benefits:

** Please stay in high consideration that these changes will go into effect on October 2, 2020.


Other Changes

Premium Processing

-    DHS will extend the premium processing timeframe so that the agency has 15 business days to process petitions. This change is a contrast to the previous 15 calendar day. Moreover, DHS states that this change will allow USCIS more time to process cases and may eliminate the need to suspend premium processing when requests are in high demand temporarily.
-    No additional fee changes for premium processing are included in the announced fee schedule.
Nonimmigrant Visas

-    Instead of a single Form I-129 that can be used for multiple visa classifications (such as H-1B, L, E, and TN), there will be several forms for each specific visa classification (as identified in the chart above). 
-    The different Form I-129 types will each have a distinct fee.
-    In case the form I-129 is filed for a worker who is present in the United States, the petitioner must provide the worker’s domestic address when completing the form. 

Adjustment of Status Applications
 
-    DHS will require applicants to pay a separate fee to apply for work authorization and travel documents, even if filing concurrently with Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Presently, Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, may be filed concurrently with Form I-485 without an additional fee. 

We understand that these fees increases and changes may seem drastic; however, our attorneys are prepared to help you navigate this situation. Our firm is up to date on the new regulations and available to assist those that may be impacted by these changes. It is our aim to provide some much-needed reassurance and guidance during these challenging times.

In the event that you or someone you know is considering applying for any employment authorization, change of status, and any other immigration service, we highly recommend the application is submitted before these regulations become effective.

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