The cost of immigrating to the United States is prohibitive to some individuals, and it seems as though this is a trend that will continue. Recently, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced an increase in the pricing that is likely going to make it even more difficult for people who need to apply for lawful entry into the U.S. to get their applications in.
The USCIS is increasing these fees by 21% overall for impacted applications. It should be noted that these increases don’t include the cost of hiring legal counsel. The agency notes that the increases are due to the need to cover adjustments in the cost of vetting applicants and operational costs.
Problems still exist
Despite the increase in costs for these immigration applications, it is estimated that the USCIS is still going to be underfunded by around $1.3 billion annually. Interestingly, the USCIS will transfer around $207 million to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, even though USCIS noted that it will have a budget shortfall.
The new cost doesn’t come with an increase of putting these applications through the system either. From 2016 to 2018, processing times increased by about 46%. This occurred despite a short-term decrease in applications that occurred from 2017 through much of 2018. From 2017 to 2018, petitions for family-based applications rose 25%.
The increase in cost covers many different application types. Currently free, the asylum application will rise to $50, which might prevent some people fleeing from horrible conditions in other countries to apply for asylum here. A work authorization, form I-765 is going up from $80 to $490. A citizenship application rises to $1,170 from $640. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals renewal is currently $495, but will go up to $765.
The new pricing is likely to occur, but it is still up for public comment until Dec. 16. Some people might have an issue with the fact that fees are usually non-refundable, no matter how the application is handled. Sometimes, applicants aren’t allowed to submit evidence or to clarify points in their application before a decision is made.
When you consider the cost of these applications and factor in the non-refundable status, it becomes clear that getting everything correct the first time is a priority. Working with someone familiar with the process and applications might help you to get things submitted properly the first time.