USCIS Fee Increase Proposed Rule Could Represent the Latest Step in Reshaping Immigration to United States

Jessica Bolter and Doris Meissner
Date of Publication: 
December, 2019
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

While much attention has been given to the move by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to raise its application fees—including an 83 percent hike to apply for U.S. citizenship—the policy changes embedded in the agency’s proposed rule are ultimately more notable and have been less scrutinized.

By proposing an application fee for certain asylum applicants, the elimination of most fee waivers for low-income applicants, and a rare transfer of more than $100 million out of the agency’s adjudication services to fund stepped-up enforcement by another agency (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE), the Trump administration would alter key underpinnings of longstanding immigration fee policy.

Taken together, these changes would likely reduce the number and shift the profile of those applying for and being granted legal statuses that permit U.S. residence and citizenship. These actions would be the latest in a continuum of administration policies that could significantly reshape the face of legal immigration to the United States by imposing new barriers for those of more modest means, joining earlier policies such as broadening who is considered a public charge and thus inadmissible, and requiring potential immigrants to have health insurance or financial means to cover health costs.

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Bolter, J., & Meissner, D. (2019, December). USCIS fee increase proposed rule could represent the latest step in reshaping immigration to United States. Retrieved from