On Tuesday, the Biden administration’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a new proposal that would significantly increase permit fees for legal immigrants to help cover costs related to the backlog of asylum cases that resulted from record-high illegal immigration.
According to the USCIS, the fee adjustments are forecasted to generate between $5.2 billion to $6.4 billion in yearly revenue. The department’s current fee schedule is expected to yield roughly $3.28 billion yearly in 2022 and 2023.
USCIS noted that the extra $1.9 billion per year will be “needed” to “fully recover the cost of all expenses and meet projected demand for services.”
The new fee schedule “represents a 40-percent overall weighted average increase to ensure full cost recovery.” The last time the Department of Homeland Security adjusted fees in 2016, it implemented a weighted average increase of 21%.
Additional fees would apply to permits, visas, and green cards. For example, H-1B pre-application fees jumped from $10 to $215, a 2050% increase. Additionally, employers will be expected to pay a new $600 Asylum Program Fee for work visa applications.
The proposal states that the extra funds will go towards 7,778 additional staff, annual employee pay raises, contact cost increases, technology maintenance and refresh, customer service, new officer training, FOIA responses, refugee resettlement, and the “Asylum Processing Rule.”
The USCIS estimates that $425.9 million will be allocated to “fund more asylum officers adjudicating credible fear and reasonable fear claims at the border.” In addition, approximately $1,165.7 million will be used to hire more staff, and another $149 million will be used for annual raises.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered 2.3 million migrants at the southern border in the fiscal year 2022.
Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse reported that, due to backlogs, asylum-seeking applicants must wait, on average, 4.3 years to appear in court. TRAC estimated that at least 1.6 million asylum cases are waiting for a scheduled court date.
“In addition to improving customer service operations and managing the incoming workload, USCIS must continue to fulfill our growing humanitarian mission, upholding fairness, integrity, and respect for all we serve,” USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou stated. “This proposed rule allows USCIS to more fully recover operating costs for the first time in six years and will support the Administration’s effort to rebuild the legal immigration system.”