On July 31, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security announced a final rule that adjusts certain fees. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (2020), https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-adjusts-fees-to-help-meet-operational-needs. This adjustment was made to ensure U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recovers its costs of services. Id. This rule will be in effect on Oct. 2, 2020. Id.
The effects that will happen on applicants because of the new USCIS filing fee rule are many. Applicants will not be able to afford the filing fees. Therefore, many may avoid the process of the applications. Many may choose not to obtain an attorney because of their assumption that they will not be able to afford the fees.
Although the USCIS offers fee waivers and requests for reduced fee forms, the issues will not be resolved. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (2020), https://www.uscis.gov/forms/filing-fees/additional-information-on-filing-a-fee-waiver#Eligibility. The fee waiver only covers certain forms. More specifically, it covers less than half of the seventy forms that are affected by the new filing fee rule. The Request for Reduced Fee form is only for form N-400, and has other criteria to be met before one can apply. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (2020), https://www.uscis.gov/i-942. Therefore, even though there are solutions, there are still limitations to such solutions.
In the summer of 2019, there was a “public charge” rule that denied green cards to immigrants if they were likely to use government benefit programs. Miriam Jordan, Immigration Agency That Issues Visas, Green Cards Struggles to Stay Afloat, The New York Times (Aug. 5, 2020, 8:00 PM), https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/17/us/immigration-agency-uscis-budget.html. This rule deterred many immigrants from applying. Id. The immigrants assumed that it was not worth applying. Id. This shows that added difficulty only deters immigrants from an already hefty process. Therefore, applicants would also stray away from applications based on the new filing fee rule.
In 2008, there was a naturalization fee increase that went from $300 to $595. Citizenship Beyond Reach, National Council of La Raza https://thehill.com/sites/default/files/nclr_citizenship_beyond_reach_0.pdf. After the 2008 fee increase, there was a 62% decline in the number of naturalization applications. Id. Even though there were other factors to this statistic, the issue that the fee increase cause must not be ignored. IT is safe to say that the 2008 fee increase was a contributing factor to why the applications had a significant decrease. Id. With all the past information and statistics regarding the change in immigration fees, it is accurate to state that the effect of the new USCIS filing fee will be a negative one.
In conclusion, the new USCIS filing fee rule will follow its history of the effects after a fee increase. Many immigrants already struggle to pay for filing fee applications; therefore, this increase will continue and strengthen that struggle. The outcome of the new USCIS filing fee is that there will be a significant decrease in applicants such as what happened in 2008.