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USCIS Removes Biometrics Fee for Most Immigration Cases

USCIS Restructures Fees: Biometrics Costs Now Included in Filing Fees

May 10, 2024

Female in the office uses a calculator and writes data in a notebook to calculate USCIS biometrics fees

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has made an important change to make immigration processes simpler and less costly. Starting April 1, 2024, they removed the extra fee for biometrics (like fingerprints and photographs) for most applications.

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What are biometrics and why are they collected?

Biometrics are physical characteristics like fingerprints and photographs that are unique to each person. USCIS collects biometrics to verify the identity of applicants and ensure the security of the immigration system.

What is the change?

The recent rule change has significantly reduced the number of applications that require a separate biometrics fee. Now, the cost of biometrics is included in the main filing fee for most applications, making the process more streamlined and affordable for many immigrants.

Before the rule change, most applications required a separate biometrics fee. This included applications for:

  • Green Cards (Form I-485): This form is used for adjusting status to become a lawful permanent resident.
  • Work Permits (Form I-765): This form is used to apply for authorization to work in the United States.
  • Travel Documents (Form I-131): This form is used to apply for permission to travel outside the U.S. and return as a lawful permanent resident or other eligible nonimmigrant.
  • Naturalization (Form N-400): This form is used to apply for U.S. citizenship.
  • Many other forms: Various other applications and petitions also required a separate biometrics fee, depending on the specific benefit sought.

Changes made before the final rule:

As of October 1, 2023, the biometrics fee was waived for applicants using Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status).

Does the biometrics fee update apply to everyone?

This change applies to most applications, but there are a couple of exceptions. People applying for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or some cases handled by the Executive Office for Immigration Review will still need to pay a small $30 fee for biometrics. These exceptions are in place due to the different processing requirements or additional security checks sometimes involved in these types of cases.

Why did USCIS make this change?

USCIS’s decision to eliminate the biometrics fee while adjusting other fees is a strategic move aimed at simplifying the application process, enhancing accessibility, and responding to stakeholder feedback. By consolidating the biometrics fee with the main filing fee, USCIS streamlines the process and improves cost recovery, offsetting potential revenue loss with adjustments in other fees. This decision reflects USCIS’s commitment to balancing affordability and operational needs, ensuring a more transparent and accessible immigration experience for applicants.

Learn more about the new fee schedule.