On July 31, the Trump administration announced an increase of fees for dozens of immigration and work applications, including a more than 80 percent increase on naturalization applications, and a first-time fee for asylum applicants. As per the recent rules, only immigrants over 18 who have been legal permanent residents for at least five years, or three years if married to a U.S. citizen, are eligible to apply for citizenship.

The new fees take effect on October 2 of this year and reflect over a $520 hike on the existing filing fee for the N400. The agency increased the cost of online naturalization applications from $640 to $1,160 for online applications online or $1,170 for paper applications. The naturalization fee will represent the full cost to process the application, plus a proportional share of overhead costs, a major change from previous fees policy.

This increase in fees is driven by the fact that the USCIS is funded by filing fees related to USCIS applications.  Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, as in-person naturalization interviews were halted, the USCIS is faced with a backlog of naturalization applications not to mention other types of cases.

According to the Department of Homeland Security’s most recent data, there were about 9.1 million legal permanent residents in the United States in 2019 eligible to naturalize but did not file.  Of these ativanusa.com people, the largest share, about 2.5 million, were from Mexico, followed by China, with about 490,000, and the Philippines, with 370,000, according to DHS data. According to the most recent data provided by USCIS, about 810,000 legal permanent residents applied for citizenship in 2018, and of those, 761,901 became citizens.

According to USCIS, the fee increases are needed to offset the higher cost of processing applications for immigration benefits, including the Trump administration’s attempt to vet immigration benefits.  Due to the pandemic and the reduction in the number of applications, the USCIS lost substantial revenue suffering a budget shortfall.  Moreover, the USCIS had no choice but to furlough employees if the request of $1.2 billion for emergency funds from the government is not granted.
The new fees and elimination of many fee waivers are part of an overall adjustment of immigration benefit fees that will increase by 20% on average and generate an estimated $1 billion in revenue.

We at Emandi Law Firm advise for individuals to take advantage of the lower filing fees prior to the fee hike that takes place on October 2, 2020

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