USCIS Announces Final Rule to Adjust Immigration and Naturalization Fees

In a significant move, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued a final rule to adjust certain immigration and naturalization benefit request fees, marking the first such adjustment since 2016. The primary aim of the final rule is to enable USCIS to recover a greater share of its operating costs while facilitating more timely processing of new applications.

The decision to revise the fee schedule follows a comprehensive review mandated by law, initiated with the publication of a notice of proposed rulemaking in January 2023. This review highlighted the inadequacy of the current fee structure in fully covering agency operations, including the expansion of humanitarian programs, mandated pay raises, staffing requirements, and other essential investments.

USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou emphasized the significance of the fee update, stating that it will better meet the agency’s needs and enhance service delivery to applicants. The final rule incorporates feedback from over 5,400 public comments received during the proposed rulemaking process. Notable updates include:

  • Lowering the agency’s required annual cost recovery by $727 million, partly through efficiency measures.
  • Expanding fee exemptions for various categories, such as Special Immigrant Juveniles, victims of trafficking and domestic violence, U.S. military service members, and families pursuing international adoption.
  • Offering fee discounts for nonprofit organizations and small business employers.
  • Introducing reduced fees for certain applicants, including Employment Authorization Document applications and adjustment of status applicants under the age of 14.
  • Expanding eligibility for a 50% fee reduction for naturalization applications based on household income.
  • Implementing a standard $50 discount for online filers.

Importantly, the final rule ensures that every fee remains the same or lower than initially proposed, with most individual filers seeing limited fee increases of no more than 26%. These adjustments are aligned with the increase in the Consumer Price Index since 2016.

The increased revenues generated by the final rule will enable USCIS to enhance customer experience, address backlog growth, and implement innovative solutions. However, it is emphasized that congressional funding remains crucial to sustainably manage recent caseload increases, particularly concerning border crossers.

The new fees outlined in the final rule will take effect on April 1, 2024. USCIS encourages stakeholders to review the Frequently Asked Questions page on its website for a comprehensive list of revised forms and fees. A grace period from April 1 to June 3, 2024, will allow acceptance of both previous and new form editions, except for specific forms requiring revised fee calculations. USCIS will determine the correct form version and fees based on the postmark date of filing, while the receipt date will be used for regulatory or statutory filing deadlines.