US Citizenship and Immigration Services substantially raises its fees

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Greg Siskind

Siskind Susser, Memphis, Tennessee


Discussing US citizenship and immigration forms is normally not a subject most people would find interesting, but there has been some drama when it comes to the dozens of forms the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires for its various immigration filings.

First, the fees for these forms has recently increased dramatically for the first time in several years. The agency is required to go through a formal rule-making process in order to raise or lower fees and for most processes, they are required to charge a fee that covers the agency’s costs. In 2019, the agency attempted to raise its fees, but a lawsuit was filed claiming that the agency did not comply with the Administrative Procedures Act. A court set aside the rule and USCIS took another four years to make its next attempt. The agency issued a proposed rule in January 2023 and received thousands of comments. It issued a final rule in January 2024 and that rule had an effective date of 1 April 2024.

The rule increased fees dramatically for almost every process. For example, the base fee for an H-1B visa increased by 70 per cent plus a US$600 surcharge was added to help fund the asylum adjudication process. Asylum applications do not have a fee. The largest increase was for EB-5 immigrant investor petitions which went from just over US$7,000 for the two parts of the process to more than US$20,000. The more commonly filed L-1 visa application more than tripled in price (US$460 to US$1,385). Adjustment of status applications for green card applicants are nearly doubling in price as the agency is now charging extra for interim work and travel benefits.

USCIS is also seeking to increase the popularity of its online filing process by discounting the fees of one of its most popular applications – the I-765 – for those using online filing. The agency believes the system will help it dig out from under massive backlogs in most application categories. The agency has been the subject of more than 10,000 mandamus action lawsuits due to the long waiting times – a huge increase in recent years.

As expected, litigation was filed in an attempt to obtain a temporary restraining order and stop the rule from taking effect. A judge denied the request in late March and the fee increase went into effect on 1 April (even though confusion led to the agency inadvertently keeping the old fees posted on its website until midday on 1 April).

The agency has also released a number of new forms which came into effect immediately, reflecting the new fees. One substantive change is the inclusion of a new gender option on the N-400 naturalisation application. USCIS has provided a third gender option, ‘X’, defined as ‘Another Gender Identity’ and applicants with pending Forms N-400 may request to update their gender. USCIS intends to make this option available on other forms, but has not indicated when this will happen.