On October 24, 2016, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) published a final rule confirming an increase to the processing fees for most of the applications and petitions it handles. This is a result of USCIS’ comprehensive review of the fee schedule for the fiscal year 2016/2017 the first USCIS fee increase since November 2010. The new fees will go into effect on December 23, 2016, which means that all applications or petitions postmarked on or after this date must include the new fees, or they will not be accepted by USCIS for processing.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS’ operational funding comes almost entirely from the user fees, and the current fees do not cover the full cost of services provided by the agency; the average fee increase of 21% is necessary to recover costs and maintain adequate level of services to the immigration benefits seekers.
While some applications see a relatively slight increase of $30 or $45, the cost of others, such as the Application for Adjustment of Status (I-485), Application for Naturalization (N-400), and Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (I-129) will go up by more than $100, which undoubtedly may affect certain applicants and petitioners, such as households with limited incomes or small employers. As a relief measure, simultaneously with the overall increase of the cost of services provided by USCIS, the agency now offers a reduced filing fee for the naturalization applicants (N-400) whose family income falls between 150% and 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, which is adjusted annually by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to determine eligibility for certain federal programs. An additional benefit of the new rule is that USCIS will no longer automatically reject an immigration or naturalization benefit paid with a dishonored check or missing the required biometrics fee. Instead, applicants will be provided an opportunity to correct the deficient payment (i.e., USCIS will attempt to resubmit the insufficient check to the applicant’s bank once again) or by paying the required biometrics fee during their biometrics appointments or immigration interview. The new rule will not affect charge free services provided to refugees and asylum applicants, as well as other customers eligible for fee waivers or exemptions.
This chart lists some of the key new USCIS’ fees effective December 23, 2016. Applications and petitions postmarked or filed on or after December 23, 2016, must include these new fees or USCIS will reject the submission. You can find the complete new fee schedule here.
|Immigration Benefit Request||New Fee ($)||Old Fee ($)|
|I–90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card||455||365|
|I–102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document||445||330|
|I–129/129CW Petition for a Nonimmigrant worker||460||325|
|I–129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)||535||340|
|I-130 Petition for Alien Relative||535||420|
|I-131/I-131A Application for Travel Document||575||360|
|I–140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker||700||580|
|I–290B Notice of Appeal or Motion||675||630|
|I–360 Petition for Amerasian Widow(er) or Special Immigrant||435||405|
|I–485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status||1,140||985|
|I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (certain applicants under the age of 14 years)||750||635|
|I–526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur||3,675||1,500|
|I–539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status||370||290|
|I–600/600A Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative/Application for Advance Petition Processing of Orphan Petition||775||720|
|I–751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence||595||505|
|I–765 Application for Employment Authorization||410||380|
|I–824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition||465||405|
|I–829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions||3,750||3,750|
|I–924 Application for Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program||17,795||6,230|
|I–924A Annual Certification of Regional Center||3,035||0|
|N–400 Application for Naturalization*||640||595|
|N–470 Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes||355||330|
|N–565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document||555||345|
|N–600/N–600K Application for Certificate of Citizenship||1,170||600/5503|
|USCIS Immigrant Fee||220||165|
|Biometric Services Fee||85||85|
*Certain low-income naturalization applicants may pay a filing fee of $320 plus the $85 biometric services fee. For eligibility details and filing instructions, see Form I-942, Request for Reduced Fee and Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
Alka Bahal is a Partner and the Co-Chair of the Corporate Immigration Practice of Fox Rothschild LLP. Alka is situated in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though she practices throughout the United States and at Consulates worldwide. You can reach Alka at (973) 994-7800, or firstname.lastname@example.org.