Most USCIS forms have a filing fee that must be paid for the application or change of status request to be accepted by the USCIS Field Office or Service Center.
Paying filing fees or seeing that your check to the USCIS was deposited does not guarantee that your application will be approved. This is one of the very first steps of most processes with the U.S. immigration services.
USCIS fees are set to increase from time to time. And this year, a fee increase rule was set to go into effect on October 2, 2020. However, on September 29, 2020, a federal judge for the Northern District Court of California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking the Department of Homeland Security from implementing this rule. This means that while the matter is being litigated and until the preliminary injunction is lifted or there is a final ruling on the merits of this case, USCIS fees will not increase.
On September 30, 2020, the USCIS confirmed that due to the injunction, the fee increase rule would not be implemented yet. It is unknown for now when USCIS fees will increase but it is certain that they will in the near future. Fees are set to increase by a weighted average of 20 percent with some employment-based nonimmigrant filings seeing a much higher fee increase.
The 2020 fee increase rule was subject to criticism for several reasons including increasing the premium processing time from 15 days to almost three weeks, and imposing a $50 fee for asylum applications which, for now, do not require payment of a filing fee.
Fees usually increase to account for a higher number of petitions being filed with the USCIS and higher border security fees, deter frivolous applications, and allow for more stringent review processes to be carried out, among other factors. Together with fee increases, the USCIS also updates forms and releases new versions for current application forms from time to time. The USCIS will not review your case if you fill out the wrong form or pay the wrong fee. USCIS fees can be paid by personal check, cashier’s check, money order or credit card. Credit card payments require an additional form (no filing fee needed) containing the required payment information.
Besides increasing filing fees and updating required forms, the USCIS also updates processing times albeit on a more regular basis. The USCIS website lists the processing times for most forms and applications according to field office or service center.
When working on your application, make sure that you have:
Filled out the most current form version. Check again when you are ready to mail your form and documents, that the form you used is still the current/accepted version;
Paid the correct filing fee including biometrics for all required persons or adults (some cases and forms require fingerprinting or biometric fees to be paid for each adult member of the household or beneficiary);
Written your personal check, money order or cashier’s check to the Department of Homeland Security (do not abbreviate) or as instructed in the form; and
Followed all the necessary instructions and required steps to ensure your application package is complete.
At SKV, we offer immigration law services and can help you every step of the way from filling out forms and preparing all supporting documentation to accompanying and preparing you for interviews with an immigration officer. Contact me, Randa, today at (801) 608-4706 or email@example.com for a free initial consultation to learn about your options and how we can help you before USCIS fees increase.