Is the New USCIS Fee Schedule Fair?

Is the New USCIS Fee Schedule Fair?
28 mar 2024 · 37 min. 22 sec.

In today’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy, Elizabeth Jacobs, the Center’s Director of Regulatory Affairs and Policy, does a deep dive into her, set to take effect on April...

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In today’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy, Elizabeth Jacobs, the Center’s Director of Regulatory Affairs and Policy, does a deep dive into her recent analysis of the new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) fee schedule, set to take effect on April 1, 2024.

Jacobs discusses how the 2024 fee rule is being leveraged to advance Biden's policy objectives, ignoring the requirement that USCIS fees should be commensurate with the costs of processing specific applications.

As USCIS faces increased demands and backlogs, the implications of these fee adjustments extend beyond revenue generation, influencing immigration policies and pathways far into the future.Key takeaways:
  • Fees for immigration services for employers and entrepreneurs are set disproportionately high to offset new discounts and exemptions for other benefits, including USCIS' growing humanitarian docket. This shift in fee determination from a proportional to an ability-to-pay model is reminiscent of Karl Marx's philosophy of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."
  • The majority of naturalization applicants will receive a significant discount, incentivizing certain voter demographics to become naturalized. USCIS will offer nearly a 50 percent discount to all N-400 (Application for Naturalization) applicants who demonstrate their household income is 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or less. Depending on size, a household income of as much as $124,800 annually would qualify for this discount. Jacobs estimates that roughly 65 percent of green card holders would qualify for the discount, generating a potential annual loss of revenue of $203 million.
  • The types of immigration benefits subject to a fee waiver are significantly expanded. The rule significantly expanded the benefits that may be exempt from fees altogether – leaving fee-paying applicants and petitioners to cover the costs. USCIS reported forgoing $613 million in revenue in its FY 2016/17 fee review, and an astounding $1.494 billion in its FY 2019/2020 fee review. How much revenue will USCIS forgo as a result of fee waivers?
The bottom line? This new fee structure passes significant costs – including the growing costs of the border crisis – to U.S. employers hiring legal foreign workers.

In his closing commentary, Mark Krikorian, the Center’s Executive Director and host of the podcast, criticizes those on both sides of the immigration debate who have used the recent Baltimore bridge tragedy as an excuse to push their policy agendas.


Mark Krikorian is the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies.


Elizabeth Jacobs is the Director of Regulatory Affairs and Policy at the Center for Immigration Studies.


DHS Delays Updating USCIS’s Fee Schedule, Exacerbating Agency’s Financial Woes

USCIS’s Fee Rule Inappropriately Transfers Cost of Broken Asylum System to US Employers

52 Congressional Lawmakers Protest USCIS’s Proposed Fee Schedule


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Intro Montage

Voices in the opening montage:
  • Sen. Barack Obama at a 2005 press conference.
  • Sen. John McCain in a 2010 election ad.
  • President Lyndon Johnson, upon signing the 1965 Immigration Act.
  • Booker T. Washington, reading in 1908 from his 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech.
  • Laraine Newman as a "Conehead" on SNL in 1977.
  • Hillary Clinton in a 2003 radio interview.
  • Cesar Chavez in a 1974 interview.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking to reporters in 2019.
  • Prof. George Borjas in a 2016 C-SPAN appearance.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions in 2008 comments on the Senate floor.
  • Charlton Heston in "Planet of the Apes".
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