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Act now: USCIS processing fees slated to go up next year

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The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued a proposal to raise the application fees for citizenship, lawful permanent residency (green card status) and many other services. The proposal is now in a public comment period until Dec. 16, after which the agency must consider the comments.

After that, however, the fees will almost certainly go up for citizenship, green cards, DACA renewals, asylum, Temporary Protected Status and other services.

In the past, many of these fees had been set at an amount lower than the estimated cost of processing the applications. This was done “in order to promote naturalization and immigrant integration.” After what it sees as a “significant increase” in citizenship and other immigration applications in recent years, however, the administration feels the fees should now cover the full cost of processing.

How much are fees going up?

It could be a lot. Citizenship applications are slated to go up from $640 to $1,170 — an 83% jump.

The fees associated with lawful permanent residency (green card status) will increase by 79%, from $1,220 to $2,195 if the proposal goes into law.

Renewing your DACA status would cost $765, up from $495 currently.

Fees for asylum, Temporary Protected Status and other programs would also rise.

Immigration advocates worry that the increasing fees will make it harder for lower-income people to maintain lawful status or move toward lawful permanent residency or citizenship.

In fact, a Pew Research Center survey found that virtually all eligible Mexican immigrants would like to become U.S. citizens one day, but one of the major barriers is the cost of the application.

Proposal would also increase funding for ICE

Another aspect of the rule would divert $207.6 million in funding from the USCIS and transfer it to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). That could allow an even greater emphasis on the enforcement of immigration rules as opposed to other priorities.

If you have been wavering, now is the time to act

Many people are eligible for programs like DACA, Temporary Protected Status, green cards and citizenship. If you would like to apply, doing so right away could allow you to avoid the fee increases.

For assistance with your immigration needs, contact Yew Immigration Law Group. We have years of experience helping people live and work in the U.S.