Kristina M. Hernandez
Federal Judge Blocks USCIS Final Rule Increasing Fees
Updated: Oct 1, 2020
On September 29th, a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted a motion for a preliminary injunction, ordering that USCIS is ENJOINED from implementing or enforcing the final rule entitled “USCIS Immigration Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration benefit Request Requirements” or any portion of the rule. The final rule was supposed to take effect this Friday, October 2nd and was set to increase fees for many petitions and applications, such as H-1B (21% increase), L-1 (85% increase), and TN & E (51% increase). The final rule would have also imposed an additional $4,000 on H-1B extension fees for companies with more than 50 employees and more than 50% of those employees on H-1B/L-1 status. The preliminary injunction takes effect immediately and remains in effect pending trial of the court matter. It is likely that the government will appeal to the 9th Circuit to obtain a stay of the injunction, but Doug Rand, co-founder of Boundless Immigration has stated “there’s no telling how long that will take or what the outcome will be.” USCIS has yet to release a statement regarding the Court’s decision.
USCIS responded with the following statement:
This unfortunate decision leaves USCIS underfunded by millions of dollars each business day the fee rule is enjoined. Unlike most government agencies, USCIS is fee funded. As required by federal law, USCIS conducted a comprehensive biennial fee review and determined that current fees do not recover the cost of providing adjudication and naturalization services. This is nothing new or abnormal. In fact, the fee rule is two years behind schedule, and is a smaller percentage increase than the previous. In a fee-funded agency such as USCIS, this increase is necessary to continue operations in any long-term, meaningful way to ensure cost recovery. This decision barring USCIS from enacting its mandatory fee increase is unprecedented and harmful to the American people.
Further, USCIS posted on its website that they will continue to:
Accept USCIS forms with the current editions and current fees; and
Use the regulations and guidance currently in place to adjudicate applications and petitions.