Statutes of Liberty: USCIS Fees Increase By Twenty Percent, Green Card Application Prices Double

This sponsored column is by James Montana, Esq. and Doran Shemin, Esq., practicing attorneys at Steelyard LLC, an immigration-focused law firm located in Arlington, Virginia. The legal information given here is general in nature. If you want legal advice, contact James for an appointment.

We warned you that USCIS fees were skyrocketing. We were right.

Now, thanks to the publication of a new Final Rule in the Federal Register, we can give you the details. We’re hoping that this article will prevent someone, somewhere, from having a benefit application rejected due to an improper fee. So please read this carefully, and then pay a lawyer to do it for you anyway.

First, the highlights (and lowlights):

$50 Fee for Asylum Applications

For the first time in memory, asylum applicants will be charged a fee to apply for asylum. This fee applies to every asylum applicant. It applies to asylum applicants who are sitting in detention facilities without the ability to work and earn money; it applies to asylum applicants who are five years old. This fee is not waivable.

$550 Fee for First Asylum-based Work Permit Application

For the first time in memory, asylum applicants will be charged a fee to apply for their first work permit. (The logic was: if you aren’t allowed to work legally, it would be immoral to charge you a fee to apply to work.)

Green Card Application Fees Technically Decrease by $95 but Effectively Increase by About $1,000

This is extremely unwelcome news. The application for a green card formerly cost $1,225; now it costs $1,130. However, as a matter of ordinary, prudent practice, most immigration attorneys file work permit and travel permit applications with the green card application. These applications were formerly ‘bundled’ with the I-485 fee, and included at no additional cost. That is no longer true. Now, to apply for a green card, a work permit and a travel permit, the total cost is $2,270. In addition, if USCIS fails to adjudicate the application within a year — as it frequently does — the applicant will have to pay a further $1,040 to renew his work and travel privileges.

Green Card Renewal Fees Decrease by $125 

This is welcome news. The current fee for a green card renewal is $540; the new fee is $415. USCIS will also discount the renewal fee by a further $10, to $405, if you file online. Caution: the online system is as useless as a bag of hammers. We recommend filing on paper.

Form I-751 Petition Fees Increase by $120  

If you have your green card via a relatively new marriage to a U.S. citizen, the green card is only valid for two years. After one year and nine months, you generally have to apply to make your green card ‘permanent’ and valid for ten years. The fee for that was $680; now it is $760.

Naturalization Application Fees Increase by 60%

This is a huge deal. Right now, it costs $725 to apply for naturalization, which is already a heavy burden for poorer folks. The new fee will be $1,160. Ordinary economic incentives matter. This will mean fewer immigrants naturalizing, and therefore fewer naturalized voters. (Side note: We work pro bono with a nonprofit that helps low-income Arlingtonians naturalize for free: PM us if you have a referral.)

There are lots of other adjustments to the fees; read here for the details. The new fees go into effect on October 2, 2020. If you apply before then with the higher fee, your application will be rejected; if you apply later with the lower fee, your application will be rejected.

Now as ever, we suggest hiring competent counsel. Having a work permit application rejected delays starting your job for six weeks — in our experience, that’s how long it takes USCIS to open an envelope, see the check, and spin it around.

Our fees aren’t going up, and we don’t charge to answer questions on ARLnow. As always, we welcome any comments and will do our best to respond.

Recent Stories

Daily Debrief for Nov 28, 2022

Good Monday evening, Arlington. Today we published 5 articles that were read a total of 8250 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today…

A number of options have emerged for upgrading an iffy portion of the Arlington Blvd Trail. Engineers found it would be possible to accommodate a trail up to 11 feet…

Searching for a gift for the car enthusiast in your life? CarCare To Go has the 4 best gifts to give this season.

A Rosslyn-based cybersecurity company is providing free cybersecurity training to Black girls and women via a partnership with a local nonprofit, Black Girls Hack.

Join us at Art House 7 this Saturday 4-7pm for our Annual Open House – Teacher and Student art show!

  • Meet our teachers

  • See student and teacher artwork

  • Teacher’s paintings, ceramics, notecards will be for sale

  • Enjoy beverages and light refreshments

  • All attendees get a $20 gift certificate off a class

  • 30% off everything in our Supply Store for holiday gifts

Sat. Dec. 3, 4-7pm

Art House 7

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

The Alternative Christmas Market is back! At First Presbyterian Church Arlington in Ballston, located at 601 N. Vermont Street, Arlington VA 22203, on Sunday, December 4th from 9:30am to 1:00pm. Parking available.

Vendors and products this year include: 10,000 Villages, Olive Oil Ministry, African Team Ministries, Community Coalition for Haiti, Heifer, African Market Baskets, Café Justo, Thistle Farms, Southwest Indian Foundation, and Together We Bake.

Buy gifts for everyone on your list, and support these great organizations, artisans, and global neighbors. See you there!

Submit your own Announcement here.

National Chamber Ensemble – Holiday Cheer!

NCE’s Holiday Concert will bring the finest classical masterpieces and holiday favorites together for the whole family. The festivities begin with Leroy Anderson’s classic “Sleigh Ride” and “Chanukkah Festival”, music from the Nutcracker and by J.S. Bach.

Outstanding Young Artist

Washington-Liberty Annual Holiday Bazaar

Join us Saturday December 3 from 10 to 4 p.m. at W-L High School, for this much anticipated Arlington holiday tradition! We will be featuring over 65 vendors for gift shopping, our student clubs and activities fundraising booths, and food


Subscribe to our mailing list