Felicia Persaud (26512)
Felicia Persaud

As the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) claims it needs at least $1.2 billion in taxpayer funding to avoid furloughing about 70% of its workforce, the agency chose the last day of July 2020 to announce an exorbitant increase in fees for some of the most common immigration procedures.

Come this Oct. 2, immigrants looking to enter the country, adjust within or file for citizenship or family members, will have to shell out a lot more for immigration services, including 81% more in fees to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

The reason? The immigration agency cited the increase in operating costs and a decrease in its income. According to a statement, the Department of Homeland Security agency adjusted the rates by a weighted average increase of 20% to recover its operating costs and thus avoid a funding shortfall estimated at $1 billion annually.

Here are all the fee increases you should know and plan for:

The fee to apply to become a U.S. citizen or gain U.S. citizenship through naturalization will increase from $640 to $1,160 if filed online, or $1,170 in paper filing.

The fee to file for petitions for employment authorization, Form I-765, will go up by 34% to $550.

The fee for removing conditions on permanent residence obtained through marriage, Form I-751, will go up by 28%, from $595 to $760.

For the first time, asylum applicants will have to pay a $50 fee in the Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal. That will make the United States one of only four countries around the world that charge a fee for humanitarian protection.

▪  I-131A, Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation)

Current fee: $575. Final Fee: $1,110. Percentage change: 76%.

▪  I-881, Application for Suspension of Deportation

Current fee: $285. Final Fee: $1,810. Percentage change: 535%.

▪  I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status

Current fee: $370. Final Fee: $400 ($390 for online filing). Percentage change: 8% (5%).

▪  I-929, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant (Victims of Criminal Activity)

Current fee: $230. Final Fee: $1,485. Percentage change: 546%.

▪ N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes

Current fee: $355. Final Fee: $1,585. Percentage change: 346%.

129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker

A 75 percent increase – from $460 to $805.

I-193 Application for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa

An increase from $585 to $2,790.

You can view the list published as final in the federal register here.

The silver lining in the dark cloud is that immigrants applying now before Oct. 2, will not have to cough up the new fees. As long as the application is postmarked before the final date, the costs will be the current fees.

Additionally, this final rule also encourages online filing by providing a $10 reduction in the fee for applicants who submit forms online that are electronically available from USCIS. So, go green and save.

It is time to get those applications in now, especially if you qualify for naturalization but never bothered before. This is the moment to act!

The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow