As part of its biannual review of application fees, last November U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) proposed substantial increases to its application fees for adjustment of immigration status, including citizenship and lawful permanent residency (green cards), work permits, asylum, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The proposed rule also seeks to eliminate critical fee waivers, making it significantly harder for low-income immigrants to maintain their status and progress to the next step in the immigration process. Lastly, the proposed rule would also transfer funds to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the amount of more than $220 million over the next two fiscal years.
Application fee waivers and other efforts to prevent legal immigrants from adjusting or renewing their status have the greatest impact individuals and families in low-income situations.
If allowed to move forward, the proposed rule would result in the following changes:
- Increase in the naturalization application fee from $640 to $1,170;
- Application fee increase for lawful permanent residency from $1,225 to $2,195;
- For the first time in U.S. history, a $50 fee for affirmative asylum applications—such a change would make the U.S. one of only four countries in the world impose such a fee on asylum seekers;
- DACA application fees increase from $495 to $765 ;
- Elimination of fee waivers for qualifying low-income immigrants putting them at risk of losing status or even getting deported
- Transfer of more than $220 million to ICE for enforcement use over the next two fiscal years
Pope Francis reminds us that “instead of raising walls, we need to be building bridges.” As a society, it is our moral duty to resist the discriminatory targeting of immigrants, particularly low-income migrants, and instead, provide our immigrant sisters and brothers with the opportunity to be full and contributing members of our society.
Join the Ignatian Solidarity Network in telling the U.S. government that, as Catholics, we seek a system that welcomes, protects, promotes, and integrates our immigrant brothers and sisters. We reject policies that actively seek to exclude them.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has opened a public comment period until February 10, 2020, during which time members of the public may express their opinion about proposed USCIS fee changes. Take a moment to write your own comment and express your disapproval of the proposed USCIS fee changes. We have provided suggestions as a starting point for your comment. Comments are due by midnight on February 10th.