The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published the final rule adjusting immigration and naturalization fees on January 30. The final rule increases fees by 26%, but provides discounts for nonprofit employers and low-income filers, and encourages online filing while allowing USCIS to recover a greater share of operating costs as required in statute.
According to a June 2022 report, USCIS uses a fee-for-service model where the agency is required to recover the full cost of “providing the benefits requested.” Prior to this rule change, 97% of its budget was funded through filing fees. This change follows a January 2023 notice of proposed rulemaking that garnered nearly 5,000 comments.
The review process revealed the current fee schedule fails to cover the full cost of USCIS operations, including critical infrastructure development. The final rule resulted in fee increase of 26%, equal to changes in the Consumer Price Index over the course of eight years since the last fee change in 2016.
In March of 2023, LeadingAge joined 20 national health and long-term care services organizations to send a letter to the Department of Homeland Security addressing the proposed fee increases. We appreciate USCIS heading many of the recommendations such as revising the premium processing timeframe interpretation from calendar days to business days along with the fee reductions for online filing.
We are particularly excited about the special fee discounts for nonprofit employers like LeadingAge members. We are also eager to see fee discounts extended to immigrants seeking naturalization who have incomes of 150%-400% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
Notable changes in the New Rule:
Provides special fee discounts for nonprofit organizations and small business employers
Expands eligibility for a 50% fee reduction for naturalization applications, available to individuals who can demonstrate household income between 150% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
Implements a standard $50 discount for online filers
The revised fee schedule and forms will go into effect on April 1. USCIS will accept the previous forms through June 3. However, both versions of the forms must be accompanied by the correct fees. USCIS will use the postmark date of a filing to determine which form version and fees are correct but will use the receipt date for purposes of any regulatory or statutory filing deadlines.