Immigration Application Fees May Increase to Cover USCIS Anticipated Shortfall

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is requesting to have a 10% surcharge added to immigration application fees. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, USCIS is experiencing a large decline in revenue from processing applications. The agency believes receipts will decline by over 60% through 2020. The U.S. restrictions on immigration due to COVID-19 has dramatically limited the number of applicants. However, USCIS is nearly entirely funded by these fees.

USCIS FY 2019 Final Statistics

For the FY 2019, USCIS breadth of services shows the expansive reach of the agency. Receiving immigration application fees is just one part of the agency’s mission.

Overall, in FY 2019 USCIS:

  • Granted lawful permanent residence to 577,000 individuals
  • Naturalized 834,000 new citizens
  • Received 2.2 million employment authorization applications
  • Approved 500,000 petitions for non-immigrant workers
  • Processed 40 million cases through E-Verify
  • Granted immigration relief to over 25,000 individuals

FY 2019 represents an 11-year high in new oaths of citizenship for the USCIS. However, the number of applications pending for green cards declined by 14%, and the number of applications for naturalizations declined by 12%.

What are Green Cards?

Green Cards, officially known as “Permanent Resident Cards” let the holders live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis. The process to apply for a Green Card depends on the individual’s specific situation. Eligibility requirements vary based on the application’s submission category.

USCIS notes that most people who apply for a Green Card will need to submit at least two forms, along with the correct immigration application fees. Depending on the situation, the forms may include one or more of the following:

  • I-130 Form, Petition for Alien Relative
  • I-140 Form, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
  • I-730 Form, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition
  • I-589 Form, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal

Other USCIS petitions include:

  • I-360 Form, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant
  • I-526 Form, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur
  • I-918 Form, Petition of U Nonimmigrant Status
  • I-929 Form, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant

As a result, fees for forms can add up quickly. Adding a 10% surcharge on immigration application fees may increase the total amount of fees significantly, depending on the individual as well as their family members’ situations.

What are the Current Immigration Application Fees?

USCIS has several forms with associated fees depending on the specific applicant need. To apply for naturalization, applicants must submit Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. There is an online portal to help applicants calculate their total fees. Form N-400 fees include a fee for the form itself, and another fee for biometrics. An average Form N-400 fee includes:

Biometrics $85
N-400 $640
Total $725

 

What will the Immigration Application Fees rise to?

If the 10% surcharge is added to immigration application fees, the total cost to file Form N-400 may rise by $72.50 to a total of $797.50 (assuming biometrics fee also rises by 10%). If an employer has several employees impacted by this surcharge, the increase in costs may be significant.

What Does This Mean?

Depending on the form, the 10% surcharge may be as low as $6.50, or as high as $1,779.50. In some cases, these fees may be paid by employers who employ H-1B visa holders. Employers should review the fees for the various forms to understand if the 10% surcharge may cause significant changes to budgets and costs associated with compliance to USCIS requirements.

 What Should Employers do About Immigration Application Fees?

Employers should work with a knowledgeable and experienced Relocation Management Company (RMC). RMCs with experience will be able to help employers understand how to identify costs and other issues that may arise from the USCIS surcharge request.

The RMC will also have knowledge of a number of alternatives that may provide employers with valuable and cost-effective solutions. As a result, employers may be able to mitigate the impact of the 10% surcharge and other issues surrounding immigration as it relates to COVID-19 restrictions.

Conclusion

GMS’ team of global relocation experts has helped thousands of our clients understand how to respond effectively to issues regarding the USCIS and immigration. Our team can help your company understand how to plan accordingly for increases in immigration application fees.

GMS was the first relocation company to register as a .com, created the first online interactive tools and calculators, and revolutionized the entire relocation industry. GMS continues to set the industry pace as the pioneer in innovation and technology solutions with its proprietary MyRelocation® technology platform.

Contact our experts online to discuss your company’s interest in learning more about how to plan for increases in immigration application fees, or give us a call at 800.617.1904 or 480.922.0700 today.

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