BREAKING: Judge Blocks USCIS Fee Increases
by Scott Girard
On Tuesday, a federal judge in California granted a preliminary injunction, preventing USCIS from increasing filing fees that were scheduled to go into effect on Friday, October 2, 2020. This means that as long as the injunction is in place, USCIS fees will stay the same as they are now and not increase as planned.
The main issue, among others, is whether former acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Kevin McAleenan and current acting secretary Chad Wolf had the authority to issue USCIS fee increases. The plaintiffs argued that McAleenan and Wolf were unlawfully appointed to their positions. The judge found that the plaintiffs were “likely to succeed” on their arguments and granted the injunction to prevent the fee increases. The government likely will try to stay, or stop, the injunction, and we will provide updates if anything changes.
This has significant effects on most noncitizens. If it is allowed to go into effect, the rule will increase fees for H-1B petitions by 21% (from $460 to $555), impose higher fees on companies with more than 50 employees with at least 50% of their workforce in H-1B and L-1 status, increase premium processing times, increase fees work permit applications by 34% (from $410 to $550), and increase the USCIS fee to become a U.S. citizen by 80%, (from $640 to $1,160). The fee increase also would significantly affect asylum applicants, charging a $50 fee for the first time in U.S. history. In fact, U.S. would become one of a handful of countries to charge a fee for asylum cases. The rule would also increase the cost for an asylum applicant to apply for an initial work permit from the zero to $490.