Marking the first fee adjustment since 2016. Published today, the final rule aims to enhance USCIS's financial recovery and facilitate more expeditious processing of new applications.
The rule, arising from a comprehensive fee review mandated by law, comes after the publication of a notice of proposed rulemaking in January 2023. The review identified a significant shortfall in the current fee schedule's capacity to cover the agency's operational costs, including expanding humanitarian programs, mandated pay raises, staffing needs, and essential investments.
USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou emphasized the importance of updating fees to better align with the agency's requirements and improve service delivery. Despite previous funding challenges, the USCIS workforce has demonstrated progress in customer service, backlog reduction, process implementation, and program initiation.
The final rule, incorporating feedback from over 5,400 public comments received during the proposed rulemaking, introduces several key updates. Notable provisions include:
- A $727 million reduction in the agency's required annual cost recovery, partly due to efficiency improvements.
- Expanded fee exemptions for various groups, including Special Immigrant Juveniles, victims of trafficking, crime, and domestic violence, U.S. military service members and Afghan allies, and families pursuing international adoption.
- Special fee discounts for nonprofit organizations and small business employers.
- Half-price Employment Authorization Document applications for certain adjustment of status applicants and a reduced fee for adjustment of status applicants under 14 in specific situations.
- Extended eligibility for a 50% fee reduction for naturalization applications for individuals with household income between 150% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
- Implementation of a standard $50 discount for online filers.
All fees in the final rule are the same or lower than those proposed initially. For most individual filers, the final rule imposes limitations on newly established fees, ensuring they do not increase by more than 26%, equivalent to the Consumer Price Index increase since the last fee rule in 2016.
The revised fees will take effect on April 1, 2024. Stakeholders are encouraged to refer to USCIS's Frequently Asked Questions page for a complete list of revised forms and fees, with USCIS accepting both previous and new editions of certain forms filed with the correct fee during a grace period from April 1, 2024, through June 3, 2024. However, specific forms without grace periods will require new fee calculations. Filers can preview these new form editions on the USCIS website before the effective date. The postmark date will determine the correct form version and fees, while the receipt date will apply to regulatory or statutory filing deadlines.