Who Pays Immigration Fees?


USCIS gets most of its money from U.S citizens and companies

Jul 1, 2020


IMPORTANT UPDATE — July 31, 2020: Effective Oct. 2, 2020, government filing fees will increase for marriage-based green card applications filed from within the United States, as well as for naturalization applications. Total fees for green card applications filed from outside the United States will decrease very slightly. See our breakdown of the new fees below. Please note that, at the time of writing, this blog post reflected the U.S. government’s proposed fees, whereas the tables below reflect the final (new) fees, as listed in the final rule in the Federal Register.

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How we’re preparing: Boundless is currently prioritizing affected customers, which maxes out our capacity. Although we are still accepting new green card customers, we will not be able to help them file before the U.S. government’s deadline.

We also currently are not accepting new naturalization customers. If you’re interested in applying now, our trusted partner, RapidVisa, can help you complete your citizenship application. Learn more about RapidVisa and how to get started here.


Facing an insolvency crisis of its own making, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has threatened to furlough most of its 20,000 employees and effectively shut down the U.S. legal immigration system—unless Congress provides a $1.2 billion bailout before August 3, 2020.

USCIS has proposed to recoup this money by imposing a 10 percent surcharge on all fees paid by its users, and paying back the U.S. Treasury over roughly three years. The Trump administration claims “this deficit neutral approach will come at no additional cost to the U.S. taxpayer.”

But this claim ignores the fact that the vast majority of the individuals and companies who pay USCIS fees are U.S. taxpayers.

Boundless analyzed all of the forms and fees mandated by USCIS, and found that by far the most lucrative class of users is U.S. citizens and their families (35%), followed by permanent residents and their families (18%), permanent residents applying for U.S. citizenship (16%), and companies and their employees (15%).

A pie chart showing who pays immigration fees

Whenever USCIS increases its fees—including its looming plan to hike fees by as much as 600%—the burden is felt primarily by U.S. citizens, soon-to-be U.S. citizens, and U.S. companies.

Appendix

Methodology

Boundless used the Fiscal Year 2016 data provided by USCIS in its most recent proposed fee rule to calculate the percentage of agency revenue (i.e. fees) attributable to each form type.

We then assigned a broad category to each form type. In some cases, the categorization is unambiguous: Only “permanent residents becoming U.S. citizens” pay the fees for naturalization forms. In several cases, we used the typical distribution of green card recipients to differentiate among categories within a given form type (e.g. Form I-485 for U.S. citizen relatives vs. permanent resident relatives vs. employees). For some form types—chiefly applications for Employment Authorization Documents and Travel Documents—USCIS does not provide enough data to differentiate among these specific categories, so we used the more general category “individuals without permanent status.”

We used a round number ($4 billion) as a reasonable representation of USCIS’s average total fee receipts in recent years.

Finally, we excluded biometric fees because USCIS proposes to fold these fees into other form types.

Form type Who pays? % of all fees Fees collected
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative (U.S. citizen relatives) U.S. citizen families 14.5% $581,081,866
N-400 Application for Naturalization Permanent residents becoming U.S. citizens 14.3% $572,811,101
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (U.S. citizen relatives) U.S. citizen families 13.5% $538,823,969
I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card Permanent resident families 11.6% $463,005,268
I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker Subtotal Companies and employees 7.0% $278,822,791
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Individuals without permanent status 5.8% $231,189,490
I-131/I-131A Application for Travel Document Subtotal Individuals without permanent status 4.0% $158,435,244
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (employment-based) Companies and employees 3.2% $126,663,601
USCIS Immigrant Fee (U.S. citizen relatives) U.S. citizen families 3.1% $124,412,478
I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence on Permanent Resident Status (U.S. citizen relatives) U.S. citizen families 2.9% $115,741,473
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative (permanent resident relatives) Permanent resident families 2.7% $106,869,850
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (permanent resident relatives) Permanent resident families 2.5% $99,097,976
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Companies and employees 2.2% $89,972,912
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Companies and employees 2.2% $87,880,090
N-600/600K Application for Certificate of Citizenship Permanent residents becoming U.S. citizens 1.9% $77,702,204
I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur Individuals without permanent status 1.9% $76,405,703
Inadmissibility Waiver Subtotal Small categories 1.4% $55,215,352
I-601A Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver Small categories 1.0% $38,138,381
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) U.S. citizen families 0.7% $29,774,179
USCIS Immigrant Fee (permanent resident relatives) Permanent resident families 0.6% $22,881,359
I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence on Permanent Resident Status (permanent resident relatives) Permanent resident families 0.5% $21,286,629
I-290B Notice of Appeal or Motion Small categories 0.5% $20,042,629
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status Small categories 0.5% $18,924,662
N-565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document Small categories 0.5% $18,472,658
I-924 Application For Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program Small categories 0.3% $10,073,033
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition Small categories 0.2% $7,134,297
I-600/600A; I-800/800A Intercountry Adoption-Related Petitions and Applications Small categories 0.2% $6,381,902
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document Small categories 0.1% $5,989,409
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er) or Special Immigrant Small categories 0.1% $5,523,236
I-924A Annual Certification of Regional Center Small categories 0.1% $3,793,151
N-336 Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings Small categories 0.1% $3,563,606
I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits Small categories 0.0% $1,690,410
I-910 Application for Civil Surgeon Designation Small categories 0.0% $677,298
I-800A Supplement 3 Request for Action on Approved Form I-800A Small categories 0.0% $406,662
G-1041 Genealogy Index Search Request Small categories 0.0% $331,564
G-1041A Genealogy Records Request Small categories 0.0% $222,460
I-698 Application to Adjust Status from Temporary to Permanent Resident (Under Section 245A of the INA) Small categories 0.0% $215,375
N-470 Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes Small categories 0.0% $181,368
I-929 Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant Small categories 0.0% $83,600
I-694 Notice of Appeal of Decision Small categories 0.0% $49,593
I-690 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility Small categories 0.0% $17,003
N-300 Application to File Declaration of Intention Small categories 0.0% $14,169
I-589 Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal Small categories 0.0% $0
I-600A/I-600 Supplement 3 Request for Action on Approved Form I-600A/I-600 Small categories 0.0% $0
I-600A/I-600 Supplement 3 Request for Action on Approved Form I-600A/I-600 Small categories 0.0% $0
I-821D Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Renewal) Small categories 0.0% $0
I-881 Application for Suspension of Deportation or Special Rule Cancellation of Removal Small categories 0.0% $0

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