Homeland Security proposes expanding immigration fee exemptions
The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday proposed expanding immigration fee exemptions while increasing some fees by hundreds of dollars.
The agency currently provides some fee exemptions and waivers, but Homeland Security proposed additional fee exemptions for refugees, juveniles, abused spouses and others.
"In this new fee rule, DHS proposes to return the focus of its fee-setting away from emphasizing the beneficiary-pays principle towards the historical balance between the beneficiary-pays and ability-to-pay principles," Homeland Security said in a 469-page proposal. "DHS has been directed by the President to reduce barriers and promote accessibility to the immigration benefits that it administers."
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said it receives about 96% of funding from filing fees, not taxpayers, and the last fee adjustment was in 2016.
The proposed fee for an application to suspend deportation also decreased by $400 to $340.
Although the agency promulgates equity in its new proposal, many new fees were created and others increased by hundreds of dollars.
One of the largest new fees is a $600 Asylum Program Fee to be paid by employers. Current temporary workers are charged $460 for their visa, but with proposed fee increases and the asylum fee, migrants and their employers may pay as much as $1,985.
The pre-registration fee for an H-1B skilled worker's visa rose from $10 to $215.
The agency proposed increasing other fees by as much as 300%. For example, a paper genealogy records request from the agency currently costs $65. The new fee would increase prices by 300% – to $260.
The price to be designated as a "regional center," which provides investment opportunities for immigrants who wish to become permanent residents, rose from $17,795 to $47,695. The cost of a petition for a foreign investor to immigrate rose more than 200% from $3,675 to $11,160.
The public is encouraged to visit Regulations.gov and search for "Docket No. USCIS-2021-0010" to comment on the proposed rule from Wednesday through March 6, 2023.