United States Citizenship and Immigration Services fees will not increase after a court granted an injunction in a newly filed lawsuit that would delay the implementation of fee increases.
The lawsuit, filed against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Chad Wolf in August on behalf of several immigrant resource centers, including the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, and others, claims the fee increases disproportionately affect immigrants.
On Tuesday, days before the fees were to be put into effect, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White granted a preliminary injunction against the agency from implementing the fees.
In early August, USCIS officials announced fee increases for several services citing as it has all year, a growing budget deficit that would force them to furlough more than 13,000 of its employees by the end of the month. The new fees would be implemented Oct. 2, the document stated. USCIS officials subsequently said they were able to avoid the furlough of its employees.
The fee increases, the first since December 2016, come at a time when USCIS officials continue to implore Congressional members to inject more than $1.2 billion into the agency to avoid a large furlough of its employees.
In some cases, like that of fees for citizenship applications, fees would increase by more than 80%, according to the federal register. Citizenship applicants would pay higher fees, with the naturalization form increasing by nearly double, from $640 to $1,170, the document stated.
Some increases to note; green-card applicants would pay much higher fees than they do now due to work and travel permits now require separate fees, from $1,750, to $2,830. Recently married couples would pay an extra $165 to obtain a permanent green card.
For asylum seekers, who currently do not have to pay a fee for an asylum application, a fee of $50 will be added — a huge change for a country that has been the center of a “melting pot” of people since its inception. It would make the U.S. only one of four countries in the world to charge an asylum fee, along with Iran, Fiji, and Australia.
In the largest relative increase, the fee for applicants for family members of a crime victim, will go up more than five times, from $230, to $1,285, drawing criticism from crime victim advocates who say the increase is excessive and would have a negative impact on vulnerable communities.
Adding to the impact is the decision to eliminate fee waivers, which again would disproportionately hurt low-income, immigrant, and mixed-status families, looking to apply for U.S. citizenship.
In his order granting the injunction, White stated in part, that the plaintiffs in the case met the burden to show that they are likely to succeed in their argument that states DHS violated the American Procedures Act because of the nature in which DHS Acting Secretary Wolf was appointed to his position.
In addition, the judge stated the plaintiffs were also likely to succeed arguing other APA violations; such as the lack of “thinking and data,” the document states.
Plaintiffs have argued “the Final Rule should be set aside because the Proposals failed to disclose adequate information about the thinking and data upon which the rule is based,” the document states.
Additionally, the court denied the government’s request for a stay on the injunction.
On Wednesday, USCIS officials called the Court’s decision, “unfortunate,” and “harmful” to Americans.
The parties are expected before the court again late next week.