Recently, USCIS proposed major fee hikes for all immigration-related applications. For the first time in history, the cost to become a U.S. citizen would rise above $1,000.00. In another first, USCIS proposed a new fee for asylum seekers, which would make the United States only the fourth country in the world to charge for humanitarian protection.
Currently, only Iran, Fiji, and Australia charge a fee for asylum. The proposed $50.00 fee would likely be problematic for asylum seekers, who are not legally allowed to work in the United States until after applying for asylum. In addition, the proposed $50.00 fee would be devastating to those asylum seekers in detention, who earn at most $1.00 a day through Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) voluntary work program.
Under the new proposed fee increase, applicants for a green card through marriage would have to pay $2,750.00 total; an increase of $990.00 from the current fee. Applications for citizenship would have to pay $1,170.00; an increase of $445.00 from the current fee. USCIS also proposed abolishing the widely used fee waiver for a variety of applications, including citizenship.
Under the agency’s proposed plan, only fee waivers required by law would be allowed, with all other fee waivers abolished. This is a significant change that would hit seniors and low-income families the hardest. In addition, crime and trafficking victims seeking U visas or T visas would be impacted.
USCIS also proposed 6% fee hikes across the board, and sending $200,000,000 yearly to Ice to then use however the agency wishes. USCIS acknowledges that the proposed raise in fees would need Congressional approval.