UPDATE: The public comment period for USCIS’ proposed fee increase ended on March 13, 2023. The agency originally set a deadline of March 6th for public commentary but extended it a week due to a technical issue. During the public comment period, the agency amassed more than 6,000 public comments, with criticism of the proposed cost increases and the impact they could have on U.S. businesses, the workforce, and families. The fee increases will not go into effect until the final rule is published, and it’s unclear whether the agency will move forward with the fee increases it proposed in January, or if the final rule will be a modified version based on feedback from the public.
USCIS released a proposal in January that would raise application fees for almost every category of immigrant to the United States. While early press coverage has focused on the significant price increases for employment-based visas like the H1B, Boundless has discovered that family-based immigrant applications will also face dramatic fee increases. This includes a doubling of total fees from $1760 to over $3640 for many marriage-based green card applications when including the mandatory I-130 petition for a family member. In addition, fees for accompanying children will no longer be reduced and their costs will mirror adult applications. For an immigrant family of four, the costs to bring a spouse and two children to the United States could exceed $10,000 under this new fee proposal.
Other immigration applications are also set to increase in price: the fiancé visa petition will increase by 35%, from $535 to $720, the petition for a relative will increase by 53% from $535 to $820, and the removal of conditions application will increase by 76%, from $680 to $1,195.
For a full list of proposed fee changes and how much applicants can expect to pay for certain visa categories, go to Boundless’ USCIS fees guide.
Why is this happening?
The proposed fee hikes are expected since the agency is required to review its immigration fee structure every two years. USCIS receives roughly 96% of its funding from filing fees and hasn’t introduced new fees since 2016. The cash-strapped agency is facing staffing challenges and an ever-increasing application backlog. USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou stated that the new fee structure would allow the agency to “improve customer service operations and manage the incoming workload.”
When will these changes take effect?
USCIS is required to follow a specific process mandated by the Administrative Procedures Act to enact major changes to its services and fee schedule. The first step is the publishing of a proposed final rule, which was released on Jan. 4, 2023. Following the publication of the proposal the agency must conduct a 60-day comment period to collect public feedback on the proposal. Once the comment period ends, the agency can take a variety of actions, including modifying or withdrawing the proposal. After any modifications occur based on feedback, the final rule will be published. This can take place as quickly as 30 days after the end of the public comment period. The final published rule will state the date that the new rule will be implemented, which can be 30 days or more from the publication date.
Based on this timeline, Boundless expects that, if the final rule mirrors the recommended fee increases included in the proposal, these new fees could take effect as soon as summer 2023.
Information on this fee proposal is rapidly developing. Please continue to monitor this page for updates!