A federal judge granted a motion to temporarily block the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) new fee rule that was originally scheduled to go into effect on October 2, 2020.
The published new fee rule has an average 20% increase over 72 immigration benefit applications. USCIS filing fee for Naturalization would increase 83%, from $640 to $1,170. The rule also removes certain fee exemptions (i.e. asylum applications) and changes fee waivers criterias (i.e. fee waiver for financial hardship). For a full list of changes and a complete table of final fees, see the final rule. The reason for this fee increase that USCIS stated is to help recover its operational costs.
Why was the rule blocked?
Federal Judge Jeffrey White stated that the decision was based on multiple factors. He believes that the Trump Administration did not fully follow the administrative procedures when setting the new fee rule and the rule also failed to consider the impact of fee increase on low-income applicants with the price elasticity of demand for immigration services.
Many of the arguments brought up by the plaintiff , composed by eight non-profit organizations that provide services for low-income immigrant benefits applicants, were also supported by White. Including that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has improperly promoted the acting secretary several times while the new rule promulgated.
How long will the injunction remain in effect?
The government has up to 60 days to appeal to the Ninth Circuit court. To date, no appeal has been filed in this case. There is no telling how soon this injunction will be reversed. We will update our blog if and when there is any news regarding this situation.