USCIS fee hike blocked by federal judge

Whether submitting a visa application or pursuing a green card, immigrants in Louisiana can generally expect to pay certain fees along the way. Some people struggle to come up with money for these fees, and the situation was only set to get worse following the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services’ announcement that it planned to increase fees. However, a federal judge recently ruled that the USCIS cannot increase immigration fees.

Originally set to start on Oct. 2, 2020, the increased fees would have affected virtually everyone, including international students, new citizens and businesses. The cost of some fees were even set to more than double. This includes the L visa which would have cost $805 — 75% more than the current $460. The new rule impacted more than just fees, too. Premium processing is currently completed within 15 calendar days, and USCIS planned to change that to 15 business days.

The ruling that stopped these changes came from a federal judge sitting in another state. On Sept. 29, 2020, he ruled that the new fees were likely to cause irreparable harm and that a nationwide injunction was in the public’s best interest. He also ruled that the Department of Homeland Security did not consider important factors, such as how higher fees will negatively impact low income immigrants.

Immigrants living in Louisiana might feel understandably overwhelmed by the frequent changes from the USCIS. One might prepare to follow a specific process, only to learn that the rules and procedures have changed. During such periods of uncertainty, most immigrants would be well advised to speak with someone who has extensive knowledge of immigration law.