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Immigration Law

Expert: Proposed USCIS Fee Hike Could Trigger Litigation

Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News, Jan. 3, 2023

"The Biden administration on Tuesday proposed increasing application fees for employment-based visas and other immigration programs, in part to fund the adjudication of soaring numbers of asylum claims along the U.S.-Mexico border. The proposed rule would also keep application fees for U.S. citizenship and humanitarian immigration benefits, such as asylum, close to or at current levels, as well as codify and expand fee waivers for low-income immigrants and other populations, such as military veterans and victims of human trafficking and other serious crimes. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which has historically relied on application fees, not congressional funds, to administer the nation's sprawling legal immigration system, said the changes are necessary to ensure the agency's finances and operations would remain stable for the foreseeable future. The proposed changes, which will not take effect until after a 60-day public comment period is completed and a final rule is enacted, include significant fee increases for multiple employment-related immigration applications. ... Stephen Yale-Loehr, a Cornell University professor who studies the U.S. immigration system, said the proposed fee structure could face legal challenges from companies upset with the fee hikes for work-related immigration applications. "The USCIS needs more money to help dig itself out of a massive backlog and to modernize its technology," Yale-Loehr said. "But it might not legally be able to force employers to pay for asylum-related costs. Employers might sue to block some of the new fee increases if they don't seem justified.""