- The proposed rule would force USCIS customers to pay more for less. USCIS is proposing a 21% overall fee hike without offering evidence that this increase will reverse the ongoing deterioration of the agency’s immigration benefit services. In fact, in key respects the rule would further weaken USCIS’s case processing standards. If implemented, families, protection seekers, and American businesses throughout the country would face the dual burden of increased fees and decreased services.
- The proposed fee hikes, coupled with the elimination of vital fee waivers, would price many individuals and families out of our legal immigration system. If the rule is implemented, application fees for green cards, along with associated work and travel authorization, would surge by 79%, and for citizenship by 83%. The rule would also eliminate fee waivers for those form types as well as for numerous others. Moreover, the rule would significantly raise fees for DACA renewal requests. Taken together, these changes constitute yet another brick in the Trump Administration’s “invisible wall” restricting legal immigration.
- USCIS should rescind its inefficient policies rather than ratchet up fees to subsidize them. In recent years, USCIS’s own inefficient policies have comprised core drivers of its crisis-level case processing delays. Now the agency is proposing higher fees to fund their continued implementation—in effect, foisting onto the public the costs of its own inefficiency. To fix the backlog, the agency should start by ending bad policies—not by raising fees to underwrite them.
- By imposing a fee on asylum applications, the rule could result in the deportation and even death of vulnerable protection seekers. Only three countries in the world charge fees for asylum—now the United States, one of the world’s wealthiest countries – threatens to become the fourth. The proposed fee for affirmative asylum applicants could prove prohibitive for many protection seekers. Children and families lacking financial recourse could be compelled to return to the countries they fled, only to face further persecution or even death.
- The rule’s proposed transfer of over $200 million in USCIS applicant fees to ICE defies the agency’s service-oriented statutory mandate.Congress created USCIS to function as a service-oriented immigration benefits agency, distinct from the immigration enforcement missions of ICE and CBP. Yet the proposed transfer to ICE for immigration enforcement purposes makes clear that USCIS is prioritizing ICE’s work over its own.
- Though the rule seeks to justify its fee increases in large part by citing a need for more staffing, over the past year the agency diverted hundreds of its employees to perform enforcement work for ICE and CBP. In recent years, the rate of new applications and petitions filed with USCIS has declined appreciably. Yet the rule asserts that the agency needs far more resources to properly process its workload. The rule fails to explain why, if that is the case, USCIS sent hundreds of its employees to perform enforcement work for ICE and CBP in FY 2019.
- The proposed rule is bad for business. Among other harmful changes, the rule relaxes the premium processing deadline from 15 calendar days to 15 business days, which will result in slower adjudications at higher prices—and as a consequence, slower hiring for American businesses facing critical workforce gaps and an inefficient agency lessening its own accountability standards.
- Consistent with longstanding practice, USCIS should extend the comment period for the proposed rule from 30 to 60 days. Although the proposed rule is more than twice as long as USCIS’s most recent fee schedule rule, the comment period is half that of its predecessor. A 30-day period is wholly insufficient for the publicly to properly comment on a regulation of this size and complexity.
You can read the full text of the rule here: https://www.aila.org/advo-media/agency-liaison/submit-feedback-notices-requests-for-comment/84-fr-62280-11-14-19
If you would like to submit a public comment, you can do so here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/11/14/2019-24366/us-citizenship-and-immigration-services-fee-schedule-and-changes-to-certain-other-immigration#open-comment