On November 14, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register to adjust the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Immigration Examinations Fee Account (IEFA) fee schedule. The public comment period is open until December 16, 2019.

Unlike most government agencies, USCIS is fee-funded. According to the USCIS, fees collected and deposited into the IEFA fund nearly 96% of USCIS’ budget. Federal law requires USCIS to conduct biennial fee reviews and recommend necessary fee adjustments to ensure recovery of the full cost of administering the nation’s immigration laws, adjudicating applications and petitions, and providing the necessary infrastructure to support those activities.

“USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures, just like a business, and make adjustments based on that analysis. This proposed adjustment in fees would ensure more applicants cover the true cost of their applications and minimizes subsidies from an already over-extended system,” said Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of USCIS. “Furthermore, the adjudication of immigration applications and petitions requires in-depth screening, incurring costs that must be covered by the agency, and this proposal accounts for our operational needs and better aligns our fee schedule with the costs of processing each request.”

USCIS indicates 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 and proposes to increase fees by a weighted average increase of 21%. According to DHS, this is necessary to ensure full cost recovery because the current fee schedule would leave the agency underfunded by approximately $1.3 billion per year. USCIS last updated its fee structure in FY 2017, by a weighted average increase of 21%.

Also included in the proposed rule are proposals to amend regulations to remove the $30 charge for dishonored payments and to change the 15 calendar days for premium processing to 15 business days.

The public is invited to participate in this rulemaking by submitting written data, views, or arguments on all aspects of this proposed rule. The 30-day public comment period will conclude on 12/16/2019. After the 30-day comment period, the DHS will address the comments received and publish a final rule in the Federal Register.

Below is a sampling of proposed fee changes from Proposed Rule 84 FR 62280, as published in the Federal Register.

Table 19—Proposed Fees by proposed rule:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements

Immigration benefit request Current fee Proposed fee Delta ($) Percent change
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document 445 490 45 10
I-129H1 I-129 H-1B—Named Beneficiaries 460 560 100 22
I-129CW, I-129E&TN, and I-129MISCV Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker; Application for Nonimmigrant Worker: E and TN Classification; and Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: H-3, P, Q, or R Classification. 460 705 245 53
I-131 Travel Document for an individual age 16 or older 135 145 10 7
I-131 I-131 Refugee Travel Document for a child under the age of 16 105 115 10 10
I-131A Application for Carrier Documentation 575 1,010 435 76
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker 700 545 −155 −22
I-191 Application for Relief Under Former Section 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 930 800 −130 −14
I-192 Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant 183 585/930 1,415 830/485 142/52
I-193 Application for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa 585 2,790 2,205 377
I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the U.S. After Deportation or Removal 930 1,040 110 12
I-360 Petition for Amerasian Widow(er) or Special Immigrant 435 455 20 5
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status 184 1,140/750 1,120 −20/370 −2/49
I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur 3,675 4,015 340 9
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status 370 400 30 8
I-589 Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal 0 50 50 N/A
I-600/600A Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative/Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition 775 810 35 5
I-600A/I-600 Supp. 3 Request for Action on Approved Form I-600A/I-600 N/A 405 N/A N/A
I-601 Application for Waiver of Ground of Excludability 930 985 55 6
I-601A Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver 630 960 330 52
I-612 Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement (Under Section 212(e) of the INA, as Amended) 930 525 −405 −44
I-687 Application for Status as a Temporary Resident under Section 245A of the Immigration and Nationality Act 1,130 1,130 0 0
I-690 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility 715 770 55 8
I-694 Notice of Appeal of Decision 890 725 −165 −19
I-698 Application to Adjust Status From Temporary to Permanent Resident (Under Section 245A of the INA) 1,670 1,615 −55 −3
I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence 595 760 165 28
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization 410 490 80 20
I-800/800A Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative/Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country 775 810 35 5
I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits 600 590 −10 −2
I-821D Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Renewal) 0 275 275 N/A
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition 465 500 35 8
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status 3,750 3,900 150 4
I-910 Application for Civil Surgeon Designation 785 650 −135 −17
I-924 Application for Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program 17,795 17,795 0 0
I-924A Annual Certification of Regional Center 3,035 4,470 1,435 47
I-929 Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant 230 1,515 1,285 559
I-941 Application for Entrepreneur Parole 1,200 1,200 0 0
N-300 Application to File Declaration of Intention 270 1,320 1,050 389
N-336 Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings 700 1,755 1,055 151
N-400 Application for Naturalization 640/320 1,170 530 83
N-470 Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes 355 1,600 1,245 266
N-565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document 555 545 −10 −2
N-600 Application for Certificate of Citizenship 1,170 1,015 −155 −13
N-600K Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322 1,170 960 −210 −18
USCIS Immigrant Fee 220 200 −20 −9
Biometric Services 85 30 −55 −65