In early November, Trump unveiled a proposal to increase application fees for immigrants that wish to remain in the country. This includes a charge for those seeking asylum in the country, making it the first time a move like this has been made. Critics are saying this move will make it much more difficult for individuals that wish to obtain citizenship in the country, and for refugees seeking asylum. Now, the new fees have been published in the Federal Register, which means that the rule is open for public comment.
“It is important that immigrants and the American public understand that these new fees have not yet been made into law,” said Attorney James Hacking of Hacking Law Practice, LLC. “Therefore, if anyone wants to immigrate into the country or renew their green card, they should do so before these new fees are law.”
There are many new fees that could be made into law. Individuals enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would be forced to pay $765 to continue receiving benefits. That is quite a hike from the $495 it is now. DACA participants would also need to pay $275 every two years to stay in the United States and renew their permits with the new policies. The Supreme Court is already hearing arguments presenting legal challenges to the Trump administration’s attempt at dismantling this program. Many believe that this is just one more way to attack it. The Trump administration has stated that the increase in rates is due to the inflation that has happened over the past few decades.
The fee for U-visas is more than doubling, going from $585 to $1,415. These visas are available for victims of crime that are willing to help the government investigate the crime. Some holders of U-visas can then obtain a green card and eventually become a U.S. citizen.
Trump’s new proposal has increased the naturalization fee from $725 to $1,170, a 61% increase. The increase could be up to 83% for some, depending on the applicant. The filing fee used to be kept lower for the naturalization fee due to the USCIS’s goal of encouraging residents to stay in America and become citizens.
This is one of many changes Trump has made to immigration law since taking office. He has attempted to impose stricter health care insurance requirements for immigrants, and has threatened to deny green cards to individuals that would use, or would be likely to use, food stamps and other government benefits. These policies have been blocked from going into effect by federal judges. The courts are are currently blocking the “public change rule,” which if put into effect, would not allow citizens who would potentially need public assistance to receive green cards or visas.
Whether or not these new fees will go into place remains to be seen. Until that time, anyone wishing to change their status or enter the country as a lawful immigrant should speak to an immigration attorney as soon as possible.