Update: On September 29, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction and stay on implementation of the 2020 final USCIS fee rule in its entirety. New fees and form versions associated with that rule that were to be required on October 2, 2020, as well as all other aspects of the rule, are now on hold while the injunction is in place. Read the court's order. The court ordered:

  1. "Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. section 705 the Court STAYS implementation and the effective date of of USCIS Immigration Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements, 85 Fed. Reg. 46,788 (Aug. 3, 2020) (the “Final Rule”) in its entirety pending final adjudication of this matter.
  2. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65, Defendants Wolf, in his official capacity under the title of Acting Secretary of DHS; Cuccinelli, in his official capacity under the title of Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary of DHS; DHS; and USCIS, and all persons acting under their direction, ARE ENJOINED from implementing or enforcing the Final Rule or any portion thereof.
  3. This preliminary injunction and stay shall take effect immediately and shall remain in effect pending trial in this action or further of this Court."

An alert posted on the USCIS home page on October 1, 2020 states:

"On Sept. 29, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, in Immigration Legal Resource Center et al., v. Wolf, et al., 20-cv-05883-JWS, preliminarily enjoined DHS from implementing or enforcing any part of the USCIS Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements rule.

While the rule is preliminarily enjoined, we will continue to:

  • Accept USCIS forms with the current editions and current fees; and
  • Use the regulations and guidance currently in place to adjudicate applications and petitions. This includes accepting and adjudicating fee waiver requests as provided under Adjudicator's Field Manual (AFM) Chapters 10.9 and 10.10."

Background

USCIS published a final fee rule on August 3, 2020 that was to become effective 60 days later, on October 2, 2020. The rule specified: "Any application, petition, or request postmarked on or after this date must be accompanied with the fees established by this final rule." The rule also made changes to Form I-765, Form I-129, premium processing, and other fee processing changes. However, on September 29, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction and stay on implementation of the 2020 final USCIS fee rule. Read the court's order.

New fees and form versions and other changes associated with the final fee rule that were to be effective on October 2, 2020 and described below are now on hold. The information below is now presented for reference purposes only while the injunction is in place.

Litigation

Two lawsuits were filed against the USCIS fee rule. Both ask for a preliminary injunction to block implementation of the rule before it takes effect.

  • Immigrant Legal Resource Center et al. v. Chad F. Wolf, et al., Case No. 3:20-cv-05883 (Northern District of California District Court). Read the complaint filed by AILA on behalf of the plaintiffs. On September 29, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction and stay on implementation of the 2020 final USCIS fee rule. New fees and form versions associated with that rule that were to be required on October 2, 2020 are now on hold. Read the court's order.
  • Northwest Immigrant Rights Project et al. v. USCIS et al, case # 1:19-cv-03283, District Of Columbia District Court, Second Amended and Supplemental Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, filed August 29, 2020. Read the complaint.

An applicant who plans to mail or ship their application on or shortly before or after October 2 should check with their international office or an immigration lawyer prior to mailing it, to verify the current status of the lawsuit and its impact on which form version and fee to file.

Sources

  • Final Rule, published in the Federal Register at 85 FR 46788 (August 3, 2020), set to become effective October 2, 2020 but implementation is now enjoined by court order.
  • Minor corrections to the final fee rule, published at 85 FR 49941(August 17, 2020). USCIS corrected four minor errors in the text of its August 3, 2020 final rule. "First, in footnote 41 on page 46813, column 1, although the rule was a final rule, it states, “However, DHS proposes changes to the policy in this final rule as explained later in this preamble.” Second, on page 46908, in Table 11, the final rule includes a line item for OMB control number 1615-0122. This control number is not affected by the rule and should be removed from that table. Third, DHS inadvertently, on page 46914, stated that it proposes to amend chapter I of title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations, although the rule is a final rule. And fourth, in instruction 35, on page 46925, we removed a term from paragraph (k)(1) in 8 CFR 214.11 that does not exist in (k)(1), but exists in (k)(10)."
  • Proposed rule (for reference purposes)
  • Proposal supplemental information, including proposed versions of revised forms and instructions

Summary

On September 2, 2020, USCIS updated the USCIS Policy Manual to reflect changes from the fee rule, in anticipation of the October 2, 2020 effective date. This change was also communicated in a September 2, 2020 USCIS Policy Alert. The policy alert states that in addition to the fee and other policy changes:

"For submissions postmarked* on or after October 2, 2020, USCIS will only accept the 10/02/20 edition of the following new or existing forms:

  • Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: H-1B or H-1B1 Classifications (Form I-129H1)
  • Petitions for H-2A and H-2B Workers (Forms I-129H2A and I-129H2B)
  • Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: L Classification (Form I-129L)
  • Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: O Classification (Form I-129O)
  • Application for Nonimmigrant Worker: E and TN Classification (Form I-129E&TN)
  • Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: H-3, P, Q, or R Classification (Form I-129MISC)
  • Request for Action on Approved Form I-600/I-600A (Form I-600/I-600A, Supplement 3)
  • Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765)
  • Request for Fee Waiver (Form I-912)"

*NAFSA Note: The USCIS Policy Manual states, "For applications and petitions that are sent by commercial courier (for example, UPS, FedEx, or DHL), USCIS considers the date on the courier receipt as the postmark date for purposes of filing." However, it can be very challenging to properly document the date a commercial courier received the package from the customer.

Quick-Reference of Final Changes to Fees for Forms Frequently Encountered in Higher Education

Form # Form Title Current Fee Final Fee Effective October 2, 2020

I-102

Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document

$445

$ 490

I-129

Petition for a Nonimmigrant worker

  1. I-129H-1 (H-1B and H-1B1)
  2. I-129O (O-1)
  3. I-129E&TN (E and NAFTA TN)
  4. I-129MISC (H-3, P, Q, or R)
  5. I-129L (L-1)

Currently, there is a single fee of $460 for Form I-129, which contains a variety of supplements used for the different petition-based categories. To implement the final rule, USCIS will create separate forms for different category groupings, and charge different fees for the new form types. A September 2, 2020 USCIS Policy Alert speaks of these form changes.

Preview versions of the new suite of I-129 forms and instructions dated 10/02/20 are now available on the USCIS Form I-129 launch page. Filers should not mail the 10/02/20 version of the form until October 2, 2020! USCIS will reject the filing if it is postmarked before October 2, 2020. For example, if the 10/02/20 edition is postmarked on 10/01/20 but USCIS received it on 10/02/20, USCIS would properly reject the application. For those who use courier services like FedEx, etc., a September 2, 2020 USCIS Policy Alert states, "For applications and petitions that are sent by commercial courier (for example, UPS, FedEx, or DHL), USCIS considers the date on the courier receipt as the postmark date for purposes of filing." That is to say, for courier services it is the date that the carrier receives the package from the sender, as recorded by the carrier, that constitutes the postmark date for this purpose.

$460

 
  1. $555
  2. $705
  3. $695
  4. $695
  5. $805
I-131 Application for Travel Document (including advance parole) $575 $ 590

I-140

Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker

$700

$ 555

I-193 Application for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa $585 $ 2,790

I-290B

Notice of Appeal or Motion

$675

$ 700

I-485

Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

Although the base I-485 application fee will be lowered, it will no longer include the fee for Form I-765 (employment) and Form I-131 (advance parole). Adjustment applicants who wish to file for those benefits must submit separate payments with those ancillary applications. And so, whereas currently an adjustment applicant pays $1,140 for adjustment, employment, and advance parole, under the final rule the same applicant will pay almost double: $1,130 for adjustment, $550 for employment, and $ 590 for advance parole.

$1,140

$ 1,130

I-539

Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status

*Note: The fee for Form I-539/539A is $390 instead of $400 when submitted to USCIS online and not in paper form.

$370

$ 400/390*

I-765

Application for Employment Authorization (non-DACA)

$410

$ 550

The above table lists only the forms most frequently encountered in higher education. See Table 1 (reproduced below) and the Federal Register notice for a complete list of proposed changes to forms and fees and USCIS' rationale for the changes.

Changes other than fees and forms

Aside from fee and form changes, the rule also finalizes the following, effective October 2, 2020:

  1. Changes the premium processing timeframe from 15 calendar days to 15 business days.
  2. Limits application fee waivers only to VAWA self-petitioners, T and U nonimmigrants, certain battered spouses and children, and TPS applicants. Extremely limited exceptions. Fee waivers could generally no longer be requested for Forms I-765 and I-539.
  3. Authorizes USCIS to use Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery as a method of delivery of secure documents (such as green cards, EADs, and advance parole authorizations). In 2018, USCIS had partially implemented this protocol for documents that need to be re-mailed because they have been returned as non-deliverable. This final rule adds this language to 8 CFR 103.2(b)(19)(iii): "(iii) Secure identity documents. (A) USCIS may send secure identification documents, such as a Permanent Resident Card or Employment Authorization Document, only to the applicant or self-petitioner unless the applicant or self-petitioner specifically consents to having his or her secure identification document sent to a designated agent, their attorney or accredited representative or record, as specified on the form instructions. (B) The designated agent, or attorney or accredited representative, will be required to provide identification and sign for receipt of the secure document."
  4. Fee returns:
    • If a check or other financial instrument used to pay a fee is returned as unpayable because of insufficient funds, USCIS will resubmit the payment to the remitter institution one time. If the fee is returned as unpayable a second time, USCIS will reject the filing. Financial instruments returned as unpayable for a reason other than insufficient funds will not be redeposited.
    • Removes the $30 charge for dishonored payments.
    • DHS may reject a request that is accompanied by a check that is dated more than 365 days before the receipt date.
  5. Biometric services fees. The preamble to the final rule explains that for most applications, "DHS is incorporating the biometric services cost into the underlying immigration benefit request fee instead of charging a flat $85 biometric services fee... Although DHS eliminates the separate biometrics service fee of $85 for many application types in this final rule, it establishes fees for most forms to reflect the estimated full cost of adjudication, including the cost of biometric services that are typically associated with that form. Thus, DHS will continue to recover the cost of providing biometric services, but it will do so by adjusting form fees to reflect the total cost of an adjudication, including providing biometric services." However, a separate $30 or $85 biometric fee will be required for certain applications only. The preamble states:
    • "DHS will require a $30 biometric services fee for an applicant for asylum or an alien approved for parole who applies for employment authorization (c)(8)'s, TPS initial applications and re-registrations, EOIR applicants, and term CNMI resident program applicants."
    • "To request a DACA renewal, DHS will continue to require the $410 Form I-765 fee and the $85 biometric services fee that were in effect before September 5, 2017."
  6. The fee for forms submitted to USCIS online and not in paper form will generally be $10 less than the fee set by this regulation.
  7. Will levy the $4,000 9-11 Response and Biometric Entry-Exit Fee (Sec. 411(b) Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act, 49 USC Ch. 401 notes) to all petitioners filing a new or extension H-1B petition who employ 50 or more employees in the United States if more than 50 percent of the petitioner's employees in the aggregate are in H-1B, L-1A or L-1B nonimmigrant status, except for petitioners filing an amended petition without an extension of stay request. This fee would apply to petitions filed on or before September 30, 2027. A similar payment (for $4,500) would apply to covered L-1 petitions. USCIS does not keep the 9-11 Response and Biometric Entry-Exit fee. CBP receives 50 percent of it and the remaining 50 percent is deposited into the General Fund of the Treasury.

On September 2, 2020, USCIS updated the USCIS Policy Manual to reflect changes from the fee rule.

Table 1

DHS summarizes the final fees in Table 1.

Immigration Benefit Request

Current Fee

Final Fee

Change ($)

Percentage Change

I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (online filing)

$455

$405

-$50

-11 percent

I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (paper filing)

 

$455

 

$415

 

-$40

 

-9 percent

I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document

 

$445

 

$485

 

$40

 

9 percent

I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant worker

$460

N/A

N/A

N/A

I-129CW, I-129E&TN, and I-129MISC

$460

$695

$235

51 percent

I-129H1

$460

$555

$95

21 percent

I-129H2A - Named Beneficiaries

$460

$850

$390

85 percent

I-129H2B - Named Beneficiaries

$460

$715

$255

55 percent

I-129L

$460

$805

$345

75 percent

I-129O

$460

$705

$245

53 percent

I-129H2A - Unnamed Beneficiaries

$460

$415

-$45

-10 percent

I-129H2B - Unnamed Beneficiaries

$460

$385

-$75

-16 percent

I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)

$535

$510

-$25

-5 percent

I-130 Petition for Alien Relative (online filing)

$535

$550

$15

3 percent

I-130 Petition for Alien Relative (paper filing)

$535

$560

$25

5 percent

I-131 Application for Travel Document

$575

$590

$15

3 percent

I-131 Refugee Travel Document for an individual age 16 or older

$135

$145

$10

7 percent

I-131 Refugee Travel Document for a child under the age of 16

$105

$115

$10

10 percent

I-131A Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation)

$575

$1,010

$435

76 percent

I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker

$700

$555

-$145

-21 percent

I-191 Application for Relief Under Former Section 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)

 

$930

 

$790

 

-$140

 

-15 percent

I-192 Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant (CBP)4

$585

 

$1,400

$815

139 percent

I-192 Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant (USCIS)

$930

$470

51 percent

I-193 Application for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa

$585

$2,790

$2,205

377 percent

I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the U.S. After Deportation or Removal

 

$930

 

$1,050

 

$120

 

13 percent

I-290B Notice of Appeal or Motion

$675

$700

$25

4 percent

I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant

$435

$450

$15

3 percent

I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (except those filed by refugees)

$1,140

$1,130

-$10

-1 percent

NAFSA note: The final rule eliminates the lower fee currently paid by adjustment applicants who are are under 14 years old and are filing with at least one parent; the current fee for those children is $750 but under the final rule they will pay the full fee of $1,130.

$750

 

$380

51 percent

I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor

$3,675

$4,010

$335

9 percent

I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (online filing)

$370

$390

$20

5 percent

I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (paper filing)

$370

$400

$30

8 percent

I-589 Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal

$0

$50

$50

N/A

I-600/600A Adoption Petitions and Applications

$775

$805

$30

4 percent

I-600A Supplement 3 Request for Action on Approved Form I-600A

N/A

$400

N/A

N/A

I-601 Application for Waiver of Ground of Excludability

$930

$1,010

$80

9 percent

I-601A Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver

$630

$960

$330

52 percent

I-612 Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement (Under Section 212(e) of the INA, as Amended)

 

$930

 

$515

 

-$415

 

-45 percent

I-687 Application for Status as a Temporary Resident

$1,130

$1,130

$0

0 percent

I-690 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility

$715

$765

$50

7 percent

I-694 Notice of Appeal of Decision-

$890

$715

-$175

-20 percent

I-698 Application to Adjust Status from Temporary to Permanent Resident (Under Section 245A of the INA)

 

$1,670

 

$1,615

 

-$55

 

-3 percent

I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence

$595

$760

$165

28 percent

I-765 Application for Employment Authorization (Non-DACA)

$410

$550

$140

34 percent

I-765 Application for Employment Authorization (DACA only) 6

$410

$410

$0

0 percent

I-800/800A Adoption Petitions and Applications

$775

$805

$30

4 percent

I-800A Supplement 3 Request for Action on Approved Form I-800A

$385

$400

$15

4 percent

I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits

$600

$590

-$10

-2 percent

I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition

$465

$495

$30

6 percent

I-829 Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions

$3,750

$3,900

$150

4 percent

I-881 Application for Suspension of Deportation or

$285

$1,810

$1,525

535 percent

Special Rule Cancellation of Removal7

$570

 

$1,240

218 percent

I-910 Application for Civil Surgeon Designation

$785

$635

-$150

-19 percent

I-924 Application For Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program

 

$17,795

 

$17,795

 

$0

 

0 percent

I-924A Annual Certification of Regional Center

$3,035

$4,465

$1,430

47 percent

I-929 Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant

$230

$1,485

$1,255

546 percent

N-300 Application to File Declaration of Intention

$270

$1,305

$1,035

383 percent

N-336 Request for Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (online filing)

 

$700

 

$1,725

 

$1,025

 

146 percent

N-336 Request for Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (paper filing)

$700

$1,735

$1,035

148 percent

N-400 Application for Naturalization (online filing)

$640

$1,160

$520

81 percent

 

N-400 Application for Naturalization (paper filing)

$640

 

$1,170

$530

83 percent

$320

$850

266 percent

N-470 Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes

$355

$1,585

$1,230

346 percent

N-565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document (online filing)

 

$555

 

$535

 

-$20

 

-4 percent

N-565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document (paper filing)

$555

$545

-$10

-2 percent

N-600 Application for Certificate of Citizenship (online filing)

$1,170

$990

-$180

-15 percent

N-600 Application for Certificate of Citizenship (paper filing)

$1,170

$1,000

-$170

-15 percent

N-600K Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate (online filing)

$1,170

$935

-$235

-20 percent

N-600K Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate (paper filing)

$1,170

$945

-$225

-19 percent

USCIS Immigrant Fee

$220

$190

-$30

-14 percent

Biometric Services (Non-DACA) *

$85

$30

-$55

-65 percent

Biometric Services (DACA only) *

$85

$85

$0

0 percent

G-1041 Genealogy Index Search Request (online filing)

$65

$160

$95

146 percent

* NAFSA note: Biometric services fees. The preamble to the final rule explains that for most applications, "DHS is incorporating the biometric services cost into the underlying immigration benefit request fee instead of charging a flat $85 biometric services fee... Although DHS eliminates the separate biometrics service fee of $85 for many application types in this final rule, it establishes fees for most forms to reflect the estimated full cost of adjudication, including the cost of biometric services that are typically associated with that form. Thus, DHS will continue to recover the cost of providing biometric services, but it will do so by adjusting form fees to reflect the total cost of an adjudication, including providing biometric services." However, a separate $30 or $85 biometric fee will be required for certain applications only. The preamble goes on to state:

  • "DHS will require a $30 biometric services fee for an applicant for asylum or an alien approved for parole who applies for employment authorization (c)(8)'s, TPS initial applications and re-registrations, EOIR applicants, and term CNMI resident program applicants."
  • "To request a DACA renewal, DHS will continue to require the $410 Form I-765 fee and the $85 biometric services fee that were in effect before September 5, 2017."