Advocates for immigrant rights in California and across the nation are concerned with the Trump Administration’s decision to increase the fees associated with immigration and work visa applications. The announced fee changes come after nine months of deliberation on the matter by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency responsible for the nation’s immigration system.
The main area of concern is the increase of over 80 percent applied to applications for first-time asylum seekers and individuals seeking naturalization. The cost of online naturalization applications increased from $640 to $1,160. The agency counters by saying the fee increase satisfies the entire cost of application processing and contributes to the overhead expenses of the agency.
The $50 asylum fee America will now assess makes them only the fourth nation in the world to require payment from asylum seekers. The three other countries are Iran, Fiji, and Australia.
The announcement from the UCSIS comes at a time when the agency faces problems with its budget. The agency found it necessary to request a billion-dollar bailout from Congress after closing offices and discontinuing services in some locations. The UCSIS is unlike many federal agencies in that government funding does not provide a significant portion of its operating expenses. The agency depends on fee collection to survive.
A spokesperson for the UCSIS says the increased fees are not in response to problems with the agency’s budget. The spokesperson says the fee adjustment was part of the routine two-year evaluation of the agency’s fee structure and is needed to ensure the agency can continue to provide the same level of protection to the American people.
Immigration policy in America is often complex and can change without much warning. Immigrants and their families who have questions about either their immigration status or the immigration process as a whole may find it helpful to speak with an immigration attorney.