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USCIS adjusts fees to meet operational needs

(WCAX)
Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 5:53 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is adjusting its fees in order to meet operational needs affected by COVID-19.

The Department of Homeland Security says it is adjusting fees for certain immigration and naturalization services to ensure U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recovers its costs of services that have been lost due to COVID-19.

The USCIS says unlike most government agencies it is fee-funded, meaning fees collected and deposited into the Immigration Examinations Fee Account fund almost 97% of its budget.

USCIS says as per federal law it conducted a comprehensive biennial fee review and decided the current fees do not recover the cost of providing adjudication and naturalization services. DHS says it is adjusting fees by a weighted average increase of 20% to help recover its operational costs. It says current fees would leave the agency underfunded by about $1 billion.

“USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures and make adjustments based on that analysis,” said Joseph Edlow, USCIS deputy director for policy. “These overdue adjustments in fees are necessary to efficiently and fairly administer our nation’s lawful immigration system, secure the homeland and protect Americans.”

USCIS says the rule accounts for increased costs to adjudicate immigration benefit requests, detect and deter immigration fraud and thoroughly vet applicants, petitioners and beneficiaries. It says the rule also supports payroll, technology and operations to accomplish its mission. The rule removes certain fee exemptions, includes new nominal fees for asylum applicants and reduces fee waivers to help recover the costs of the adjudication.

According to USCIS, the final rule also encourages online filing by providing a $10 reduction in the fee for applicants who submit forms online that are electronically available. It says online filing is the most secure, efficient, cost-effective and convenient way of submitting requests with the agency.

USCIS says it last updated its fee structure in December of 2016 by a weighted average increase of 21%.

For a full list of changes and final fees visit the Federal Register.

USCIS says the rule will take effect on Oct. 2, 2020.

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