Trump administration to increase citizenship, visa fees

| Dec 4, 2019 | Immigration Law |

California readers might be interested to learn that the Trump administration is planning to raise the price of U.S. citizenship applications by 83%, according to media reports. The move is part of an overall 21% increase for certain visa applications that was proposed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in November.

It currently costs $640 to file an N-400 application for U.S. citizenship, but that price would jump to $1,170 under the proposed increase. Meanwhile, the cost of filing a Form I-881 petition to cancel or suspend removal from the U.S. would increase from $285 to $1,800, the cost of filing a Form I-765 work authorization application would increase from $410 to $490, and the cost of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals renewals would increase from $495 to $765. In addition, the government would start charging a $50 fee to apply for asylum.

USCIS claims the increases are necessary to cover its operation costs and to provide more vigorous vetting of applicants. However, opponents of the increases say that the changes will make it impossible for some eligible immigrants to apply for citizenship and green cards. They also believe the Trump administration is intentionally trying to make the immigration process harder for poor immigrants. In addition, immigration advocates point out that USCIS is processing fewer applications and taking longer to complete them. For example, in 2017, the agency received 17% fewer applications, but its processing times increased 19%.

The U.S. immigration system is complex and subject to frequent policy changes. An immigration attorney might be able to help immigrants successfully navigate the system and obtain permanent residency. Legal counsel may also be able to represent detained asylum seekers during hearings and work to help them win the right to stay in the country.