Federal Court Blocks October 2nd Immigration Fee Increases

A federal court has blocked a new rule due to take effect on October 2, 2020 that would increase the filing fees for many immigration applications.   The ruling applies nationwide, and means that the fees, and access to fee waivers for low-income individuals, will remain unchanged while the litigation challenging the fee rule is ongoing.

The new fee rule would raise the filing fees for many of the most common immigration applications, including for naturalization to U.S. citizenship, work permits, and permanent residency.  Also, for the first time ever, the fee rule would have the U.S. join only three other countries in the world requiring asylum seekers to pay to request asylum, and would also make asylum seekers pay $550 when finally eligible, a full year after requesting asylum, to apply for a work permit in order to support themselves.

The court ruled that the plaintiffs had raised serious questions about the legality of the new fee rule and had shown a likelihood that they would prevail in their arguments that the rule was invalid due to arbitrary and capricious reasoning backing the fee increases, and because the rule was issued by Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf and his Senior Official Performing the Duties of Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Kenneth Cuccinelli, who both had been found to not be legally installed in their positions.

There is little doubt that the government will appeal.