On September 29, 2020, a federal court in San Francisco temporarily blocked the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) planned fee increase that was set to take effect on October 2, 2020. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White of the Northern District of California issued a preliminary nationwide injunction that prevents USCIS from raising fees while the lawsuit challenging the fee rule continues. A copy of the decision can be found here.
In his decision, U.S. District Judge White criticizes the proposed fee increase, stating, “If it takes effect, it will prevent vulnerable and low-income applicants from applying for immigration benefits, block access to humanitarian protections, and will expose populations to further danger.”
USCIS issued a pointed response to the injunction, declaring, “In a fee-funded agency such as USCIS, this increase is necessary to continue operations in any long-term, meaningful way to ensure cost recovery. This decision barring USCIS from enacting its mandatory fee increase is unprecedented and harmful to the American people.”
USCIS published its fee increase rule on July 31, 2020. A previous blog post regarding this rule can be found here on our website. The rule would drastically increase the fees for many applications for immigration benefits. For example, “The rule would increase the cost to become a U.S. citizen by more than 80%, rising from $640 to $1,160 (for online filings, although a separate $85 biometrics fee would be eliminated). The United States would also become one of the few countries in the world to charge an individual for applying for asylum ($50).”
This injunction brings temporary relief to immigrants who can continue to file for immigration benefits using the current fee schedule. Although this injunction may be overturned in the future, this decision is still a win for immigrants against the Trump Administration and its continued effort to restrict immigration to the United States and naturalization.