File Now or Pay (More) Later! USCIS Filing Fees Set to Increase!

By Samantha Davis, Immigration Lawyer in Richmond, VA

On Friday November 8, 2019 USCIS announced a proposed rule that would change the USCIS fee schedule. The changes include increases and decreases to existing fees, adding new fees, and the introduction of several new forms. USCIS claims that the proposed fee rule accounts for increased costs to adjudicate immigration benefit requests, detect and deter immigration fraud, and thoroughly vet applicants, petitioners, and beneficiaries. The fee increase for premium processing from $1410 to $1440 was announced separately and that will go into effect on December 2, 2019.

Please note that these changes are only proposed at this time and are not the final fees. The final proposed rule will be published on November 14 and comments will be taken for 30 days after publication. When the final updated fee schedule is available, we will provide another update that contains the final changes.

A major change is proposed for the I-485 application for adjustment of status fee. The fee for the I-485 itself is decreasing by $20 for applicants over age 14 under the current proposal. Currently, an applicant pays one single filing fee in the amount of $1225 ($1140 and $85 biometrics), and there is no additional fee for the work permit (employment authorization document or EAD) and travel document (advance parole) if they are filed concurrently with a Form I-485. However, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is proposing separate filing fees for the I-765 and I-131 forms for the EAD and AP, respectively. With the proposed change, an applicant would be required to pay $1210 for the I-485 ($1120 for applicants under age 14 years – an increase of $370), $585 for the I-131, and $490 for the I-765. DHS is proposing to eliminate the separate $85 biometric fee so the total filing fee for the I-485 bundle would increase from $1225 to $2195, a 79% percent increase.

The proposed rule also introduces several new forms. Currently the I-129 is filing for multiple employment based non-immigrant petitions including H-1B, E, H-2, TN, and L petitions among others. USCIS is proposing that those cases be separated and have petitioners file specific I-129 forms associated with the case. For instance, if a petitioner wanted to file an H-1B classification it would use the new proposed I-129H1 form. In addition to different forms, the filing fees for I-129s will be increasing from $460 and the amount depends on the type of case (and now new form). For example, for the H-1B classification, the proposed increase is $100 to $560 but for L classification the proposed increase is $355 to $815.

In addition to the two large changes noted above, most of the other changes are simple increases and decreases in fees.

Eeeeek! What Do I Do Now?

As noted above, we don’t know for sure what the final fee schedule will be. However, it is clear that many of the USCIS filing fees will increase, in some cases significantly, in the near future. Therefore, consider the following:

  1. If you are planning to file an immigration case now or in the foreseeable future, consider filing now, before the significant fee increase, which may take effect as soon as mid-December!
  2. If you file after the new fee structure is effective, make sure you are paying the correct fee amount, and using the correct form. These are seemingly simple things, but an innocent mistake can cause your case to be delayed, rejected, or denied.

Are you feeling anxious about facing all the complex, non-stop changes to US immigration law? We are here to help you navigate the maze and aim to provide our clients with peace of mind and confidence. Contact Sumner Immigration Law to set a consultation to create your strategy today! We are immigration lawyers in Richmond, VA but we serve clients throughout the US and around the world. You can call us at 804-396-3412 or send us an email to info@sumnerimmigration.com.

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