USCIS Filing Fee Increase Temporarily Halted by Federal Courts
By: Rebecca Anderson
As of this week, a district judge in California granted an injunction that temporarily halts the proposed increases made by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of schedule filing fees for incoming migrants.
According to the National Law Review, this is based on the court’s preliminary ruling. This announcement comes on the heels of a former ruling in August that stated filing fees were increasing indefinitely.
Ultimately, USCIS planned to implement these increases as of October 2, 2020. However, for now, immigration attorneys and clients can continue to file cases using the current USCIS filing fee structure to avoid having to rush to collect necessary documentation, etc.
Why was the rule blocked?
According to Boundless.com, Judge Jeffrey White of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California said that plaintiffs had raised “serious questions” about the validity of the fee hike because both the previous and current acting secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security were unlawfully appointed to their posts. He also said the rule would “put low-income immigrants at a severe disadvantage.”
Under the rule, fees for citizenship would increase by more than 60 percent (from $725 to $1,170) and the cost for a green card would more than double ($1,760 to $2,830).
USCIS, whose budget relies heavily on fees, said on their website that the increases were necessary to keep an “overextended system” afloat.
Judge White wrote in his decision, “Plaintiffs persuasively argue that the public interest would be served by enjoining or staying the effective date of the Final Rule because if it takes effect, it will prevent vulnerable and low-income applicants from applying for immigration benefits, will block access to humanitarian protections, and will expose those populations to further danger.”
What does this mean?
Overall, this a victory for immigrants, attorneys, and advocates who viewed the fees as an unjust roadblock, and unnecessary hurdle against legal immigration.
The DHS will most likely appeal to obtain a stay of the injunction in the near future, but questions of when this will happen and what the ultimate outcome will be likely unfold in the coming months.