On 7/31/20, The Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would be increasing many of its Filing Fees. The purpose of these increases is to fix USCIS's budget shortfall.
These proposed fee increases and other policy changes will happen on 10/20/20. The filing fees for naturalization services (Citizenship) will increase from $640 to $1,160 - more than 81%. The final fees for most employment-based applications will see an average increase of 20%.
If you're wondering how you're going to afford the higher fees, we've got you covered. This article will explore seven tips to help you reduce your application costs. We'll cover each in detail, but you can click on any of them to jump right to that section.
This article is not legal advice. We do not intend for it to replace the expertise of an immigration attorney. Its goal is to help you learn more about the new USCIS fee increases and how to afford them.
First, let's talk a little bit about what is happening with the new USCIS fees. We've known about the Trump Administration's proposed rule for a while, but this new rule is slightly different. After several months of public comments, the proposed rule is now a "final rule." There are nearly 600 pages to USCIS's new law in the Federal Register, so we're going to give you a quick overview of the critical points. The most significant changes are:
There are some positive things in the new rules. For example, there will be no more separate biometric services fees for applications anymore. The I-539 "application to extend/change nonimmigrant status" is now eligible for a fee waiver for specific populations. On the whole, though, applications are going to get more expensive and complicated. Let's take a look at some of the more critical parts of the new fee structures and form changes before we dive into our seven tips for affording the new fees.
Significant Filing Fee increases
You can find a full list of the filing fee changes on the American Immigration Lawyer's Association if you're curious.
Important Form Changes
Some of USCIS's forms are changing, as well. USCIS will post the new forms on its website at least 30 days before the new rule goes into effect on 10/20/20. The forms that are changing include.
The bottom line?
Filing for immigration benefits is about to get a lot more expensive and complicated.
Harder immigration applications are the last thing we need with COVID-19 pandemic still lurking around the world. Don't worry, though, we've got you covered. Here are our 7 tips to afford the increased filing fees and deal with the complicated new forms.
If your household income is under 125% of the Federal Poverty level and you are filing a form that qualifies, you can apply for a fee waiver. Getting a fee waiver means you will not have to pay anything to submit your immigration forms. This will make it easier for you to afford the increased fees.
To determine your household size for a fee waiver count the following people:
Forms that you can request a fee waiver for include
You can find a full list of forms that you can submit a fee waiver request with on USCIS's website.
To qualify for a fee waiver, you must demonstrate to the United States government that you can't afford the filing fee for one of the following reasons:
To apply for the fee waiver, submit Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver with your eligible immigration forms. You do not need to pay the fees for those forms if you are requesting a fee waiver. USCIS will send you a notice asking you to pay the fees if they don't approve your application.
We can help you prepare a Form I-912 fee waiver with the rest of your application for free using our online app. Click the button below to get started.
Many organizations help immigrants with their filing fees. Sometimes, all you have to do is ask! Here are a few great places to seek help with your fees:
Friends and family get to see precisely how the immigration process impacts your life, so they are often the best people to ask for help paying your fees.
One of the best ways to ask for help is to send letters and emails to select friends or family members. You can use this template as a starting point. It's designed for DACA applicants, but you can tweak the language for your case.
It may help to think outside the box with your friends and family. For example, maybe instead of gifts for your birthday, you could ask for money to help you pay for your application fees. After all, what better gift could someone give you than the chance to live, work, and love in the U.S.?
Many immigrants can pay their filing fees with the support they receive from their loved ones. You'll never know until you ask!
Your immigration story is worth telling, and people want to hear it. If you're willing to share it online, you can probably get donations to help cover your filing fees from people you don't even know. The quickest and easiest way to do this is by setting up a crowdfunding campaign on a service like GoFundMe. It might sound crazy, but crowdfunding your immigration fees works.
Sharing your journey with random strangers may feel weird, but it can be a great way to raise money to pay your filing fees. This guide to crowdfunding legal fees contains everything you will need to set up a successful fundraising campaign. Give it a try - the kindness of strangers is a powerful force!
As part of our work, we often talk to reporters who want to share immigrant stories with the world. Send us an email to let us know if you'd like to speak with them. The publicity will make it easier for you to crowdfund your fees!
If you don't have the money to pay your fees right now but will soon, you can use your credit card to pay most immigration fees. Here is a full list of the forms that have filing fees you can pay with a credit card. All you will need to do is include a Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions
with your application forms.
We can help you prepare Form G-1450 with the rest of your application paperwork for free using our online app. Click the button below to get started.
The immigration system is complicated, so Lawyers are expensive. Thankfully, many help immigrants for free or for a reduced rate. You can find free legal help at Usa.gov. These lawyers and clinics care a lot about legal immigration, but they often have more demand than time. Don't get discouraged if it takes a while to find one who can help you. You'll still have to pay your filing fees, but you won't have to pay an extra $2,000-$5,000 for a lawyer.
There's a secret that lawyers don't want you to know...
You can prepare your immigration paperwork without them.
And when you prepare your forms without an attorney, you will save thousands of dollars.
We're not going to lie - U.S. immigration is complicated. It can be hard to figure out which forms to use, what information goes where, and what to do once you've got everything ready to file.
But with a little help, you can do it. And we're here to help!
ImmigrationHelp.org is a nonprofit that helps immigrants like you prepare and file their paperwork for free. With our simple online application, you can find out if you're eligible, prepare your forms quickly and easily, and get an expert review when your forms are ready. Then, we'll give you detailed filing instructions so that you know exactly what to do and when to do it. it's 100% free, and it's a great way to avoid the high costs of an attorney. We've already helped more than 1,500 people on their immigration journey, and we would love to help you!
The new filing fees may eat into your savings, but we'll make sure that lawyers don't. We'll give you the tools you need to prepare and file your forms with confidence.
When you're ready to get started, click the big green button below. We can't wait to help you on your road to status!
There you have it - 7 tips to help you afford the new USCIS filing fee increases. Whether you are filing an I-129, I-485, N-400, or have no idea what any of those things mean, we hope you found our tips helpful!
If you have questions or comments, leave a comment below. We'd love to hear how you're managing the new fees, and if there is anything that we can do to help!