DHS Publishes Updated USCIS Filing Fees

10/24/2016

Today, the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") published a final rule in the Federal Register to change USCIS filing fees effective December 23, 2016. The updated fee schedule is the first change to USCIS' filing fees since 2010. Notable changes include:

• Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker): Increase from $325 to $460.
• Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker): Increase from $580 to $700.
• Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status)- Age 14 or Older: Increase from $985 to $1,140.
• Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status)- Under Age 14: Increase from $635 to $750.
• Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status): Increase from $290 to $370.
• Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization): Increase from $380 to $410.
• Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document): Increase from $360 to $575.
• Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative): Increase from $420 to $535.
• Form I-290B (Notice of Appeal or Motion): Increase from $630 to $675.
• Form I-824 (Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition): Increase from $405 to $465.
• Form I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur): Increase from $1,500 to $3,675.
• Form I-924 (Application for Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program): Increase from $6,230 to $17,795.
• Form I-924A (Annual Certification of Regional Center): New fee of $3,035.
• Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization): Increase from $595 to $640.

USCIS' premium processing fee ($1,225) and biometrics fee ($85) will not change. A breakdown of all the filing fee changes can be found here.

DHS also updated and clarified its policies regarding dishonored payments and refunds, respectively. If a filing fee payment is returned as not payable, the government will now submit the payment request to the applicant's bank a second time. If it is returned as not payable again, USCIS will reject the application as not properly filed. If the application has already been approved, then USCIS will issue a Notice of Intent to Revoke. This is a change from existing policy, which provides for a 14-day period for the applicant to correct the payment issue before the application is rejected. Regarding refunds, the final rule clarifies that the government will only issue refunds in the event of "obvious DHS error" such as accepting a duplicate payment or requesting an unnecessary filing fee. In the final rule, DHS noted that in 2015 it issued 4,485 refunds totaling more than $1.8 million. The only exception to this rule is if USCIS fails to take timely action on an application filed under premium processing, in which case the applicant is eligible to request a refund of the $1,225 premium processing filing fee.

DHS published this final rule after receiving 475 comments during the 60-day public comment period that began after DHS published the proposed rule in May 2016. While DHS acknowledged that "the clear majority [of commenters] stated that the fees were too high", DHS defended the fee increases by arguing they are consistent with USCIS' standard fee-setting methodology and necessary to "fully recover costs and maintain adequate service." Regarding the issue of adequate service, DHS acknowledged that many of the commenters raised concerns about processing delays and customer service. DHS responded to these comments by noting that a lack of Congressional funding for certain programs has required DHS to reallocate resources, which the new fee schedule will resolve, and arguing that USCIS cannot provide adequate service if it does not have the resources to do so.

Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions about how these fee changes will affect you or your organization.

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