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51 Mayors Reject the Trump Administration’s Plan to Increase Fees for Legal Immigration

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Last week, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot (Chicago, Illinois), Mayor Bill de Blasio (New York City, New York) and Mayor Eric Garcetti (Los Angeles, California) and 48 other mayors and county executives, presented a letter to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in which they reject the proposed increase in fees for Citizenship, Lawful Permanent Residency, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Asylum, and other applications.  They note that the proposed new rule would, “undermine our values by excluding millions of eligible immigrants and refugees who call our cities and counties home, based solely on their inability to afford application fees.”

This proposed rule called “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements” was published by DHS on November 14.  Some of the costs that would increase the most and are of concern to the mayors are the following (*):

1.  Naturalization Fee-Paying (Citizenship):

–  Form N-400 Application for Naturalization, from $640 to $1,170

–  Form N-300 Application to File Declaration to Intention, from $270 to $1,320

–  Form N-470 Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes, from $355 to $1600

2.  DACA:

–  Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization, from $410 to $490

–  Form I-821 Consideration of DACA (renewal), from $0 to $275

This means that a DACA renewal that used to cost $495, including the $85 fee for fingerprinting, would now cost  $765.

3.  Adjustment of Status with Interim Benefits (Green Card):

The forms involved are I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) and I-131 (Application for Travel Document).

–  Forms I-485, I-765 and biometric services, from $1,225 to $1,610

–  Forms I-485, I-131 and biometric services, from $1,225 to $1,705

–  Form I-485, all interim benefits, and biometric services, from $1,225 to $2,195

4.  For the asylum application, DHS proposes to establish a fee of $ 50 for Form I-589 Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Deportation, when the form is submitted to the USCIS. This charge is new– the United States government has never charged a fee for this form. For more information about the increase in fees, read this article from Revolution English.

In their letter, the Mayors ask “to withdraw the proposed rule on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements ”and“ work with Congress to identify alternative agency funding, for the adjudication of applications and not enforcement that undermines access to our immigration system.”

Also, they request to extend the revision of the proposed rule to 60 days, pointing out that “45 days of revision is insufficient and unjustified,” in part due to the complexity of the 314-page document.

An important fact that is mentioned is that there are nine million legal residents who are eligible to become citizens and would be impacted if this price increase rule was approved. As the mayors note, “citizenship and the ability to obtain the immigration status for which you are eligible should not depend on the size of your bank account.”

(*) Source:  Homeland of Security Department, Proposed Rule, Table 13: Naturalization Fee-Paying Unit Costs (Model Output) and Fees Compared (page 130), Table 15: Current and Proposed DACA Renewal Fees Compared (page 140) and Table 9: Current and Proposed Fees for Adjustment of Status with Interim Benefits (page 86).