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U.S. Immigration Costs to Increase April 1, 2024

M Mathew Law Firm, PLLC  Feb. 26, 2024

The immigration and naturalization process, while rewarding, can be costly and, at times, confusing. One way to alleviate some of that confusion and prepare financially is to stay informed about any updates and changes in the process.

In late January, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced changes in U.S. immigration costs that will take effect on April 1, 2024.  

This adjustment is part of a final rule intending to recover operational costs and ensure timely processing of immigration and naturalization benefit requests. 

Ultimately, the cost of naturalization is going down. But other immigration fees are going up.  

As your immigration attorney, I'm here to help you stay informed and make the best decisions on your immigration journey. Let's review the changes and what they mean.

The Final Rule: Key Changes and Implications

The final rule establishes a weighted average increase of 20 percent, with the fees for some forms rising significantly. Notably, fees for adjustment of status (green card) and naturalization applications have decreased but are offset by increases in other forms. Straight from the source (USCIS), here are key takeaways about the final rule:  

  • Lowers the agency’s required annual cost recovery by $727 million, in part by considering the budget effects of improved efficiency measures. 

  • Expands fee exemptions for Special Immigrant Juveniles and victims of human trafficking, crime, and domestic violence; U.S. military service members and our Afghan allies; and families pursuing international adoption. 

  • Provides special fee discounts for nonprofit organizations and small business employers. 

  • Allows for half-price Employment Authorization Document applications for applicants for adjustment of status and a reduced fee for adjustment of status applicants under the age of 14 in certain situations. 

  • Expands eligibility for a 50% fee reduction for naturalization applications, now available to individuals who can demonstrate household income between 150% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. 

  • Implements an online filing discount of $50. 

The impact of the updated USCIS fee schedule is multifaceted, affecting a wide range of stakeholders, from individual applicants to legal professionals and nonprofit organizations.

For applicants, particularly those from low-income backgrounds, the expanded fee exemptions and reductions can substantially ease the financial burden of the immigration process. However, the overall increase in fees for certain applications may present a hurdle for those without access to exemptions or discounts, potentially discouraging them from beginning their immigration journey.  

Legal professionals like myself and service organizations will need to adjust their advice and financial assistance programs to accommodate these changes, ensuring that clients can take advantage of the new fee structures.  

Meanwhile, employers and nonprofit entities could find the special discounts advantageous, especially when assisting large groups or individuals with immigration-related proceedings.  

Lastly, the new rule’s drive towards increased efficiency might result in faster processing times, leading to a significant improvement in the overall experience with the USCIS. 

Effective Date and Grace Period

The new fees and forms will go into effect on April 1, 2024. USCIS will accept prior editions of most forms during a grace period from April 1, 2024, through June 3, 2024.  

However, there will be no grace period for the following new forms, because they must be revised with a new fee calculation: 

The Why Behind the Increase

This fee adjustment is necessary for USCIS to cover a larger share of its operating costs. The previous fee schedule, in place since 2016, didn't sufficiently cover the full cost of agency operations, including the necessary expansions of humanitarian programs, federally mandated pay raises, additional staffing requirements, and other essential investments. 

How a Lawyer Can Help

Feeling overwhelmed by the updates? Not sure how to proceed with your immigration case with the new fee schedule? That's where an experienced immigration lawyer can help.  

An experienced immigration attorney is invaluable in times like these, offering reliable guidance to help clients understand the implications of the new fees and regulations.  

Immigration law is ever-changing, so an experienced lawyer will be familiar with how to implement these new updates and can provide personalized advice tailored to your unique situation. They can assist with completing and filing forms accurately, ensuring that your application has the best chance of success and doesn't skip a beat with the new cost increases. 

Address Your Questions With an Immigration Attorney

Changes in U.S. immigration costs can seem overwhelming. As your immigration law attorney, I'm here to help you navigate these changes and provide guidance throughout the immigration process. Staying informed about these updates and planning accordingly is crucial. 

Remember, if you have any specific questions or concerns about your immigration case, don't hesitate to reach out. I'm here to help you understand these changes and make the best decisions possible. 

As the lead attorney at M Mathew Law Firm, PLLC, based in Dallas, Texas, I serve clients throughout Richardson, Lewisville, Irving, Farmers Branch, Grand Prairie, Garland, and Mesquite.  

My approach is professional and informative, yet empathetic. I understand that dealing with immigration matters can be stressful and confusing. That's why I believe in empowering my clients with knowledge. Understanding your rights, options, and the legal process is crucial in making informed decisions about your immigration.