As we continue to adjust to life during a pandemic, USCIS has found that even the agency itself is not immune to the negative financial impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. The USCIS, which relies on filing fees to fund its operations, told Congress earlier this week that it could run out of money by the end of summer because the coronavirus pandemic had resulted in far fewer people filing immigration benefits applications. USCIS has asked Congress for a bailout and indicated that in addition to the significant fee increases it already proposed in the fall of 2019, which would nearly double the filing fees for citizenship and a green card, it also plans to impose an additional 10% “surcharge” to application fees to maintain its operations.
The arrival of COVID-19 concurrent with an administration that has already intensified the immigration vetting process, continues to advocate for anti-immigration policies, and constantly imposes new rules and regulations has severely stifled the number of immigration applications being filed. Moreover, USCIS has suspended premium processing, which allows certain immigration applications to be expedited by paying an additional $1440 fee, foregoing an opportunity for increased revenue. USCIS relies heavily on fees paid by applicants to run the agency, and it is citing a potential 60% application decrease by the end of the fiscal year as justification for the additional fee increase.
Although the initial fee changes have not yet gone into effect, the comment period has closed, meaning the regulations could be implemented at any time. It is recommended that you file your immigration applications as soon as possible to avoid paying the increased fees.
At Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan, we understand the challenges of the immigration process, especially during these uncertain times. Schedule an appointment with one of our experienced immigration attorneys and we will be happy to answer any questions about the proposed changes.