November 12, 2019: USCIS has proposed new fees for many applications and petitions. Not surprisingly, most fees will increase, and sometimes by a lot. See which fees will increase, how some forms will change, how Premium Processing will change under the proposed rules, and more in the latest YouTube video.
The rule will be published in the Federal Register on November 14, 2019. There will be a 30-day comment period, following which period USCIS will publish a final rule. The final rule might have some changes to the fees, but there will still be an increase.
If you have been delaying filing certain applications, we strongly recommend filing soon to avoid the fee increase. Some of the biggest increases are below:
N-400 (Naturalization): Increases from $725 to $1170
Adjustment of Status with EAD and Advance Parole (I-485, I-765 and I-131) increases from $1225 to $2170
Provisional Waiver of Unlawful Presence (I-601A) increases from $630 to $960
Application to Remove Conditions (I-751): increases from $595 to $760.
Other changes include unbundling the work authorization (EAD) and travel documents that can be requested with Adjustment of Status filings. USCIS plans to return to the earlier system of having separate fees for each form, rather than including the EAD and Advance Parole in the Adjustment of Status filing fee.
USCIS is restricting the type of forms for which a fee waiver can be requested, and making it more difficult to qualify for a waiver.
The timeframes for Premium Processing will change. USCIS will have 15 business days to respond, instead of 15 calendar days. USCIS hopes that this increased timeframe will prevent them needing to suspend Premium Processing completely when workloads are too high, as has happened in the past. We'll see.....
There are more changes that are described in the linked video. If you have any questions about the proposed changes, please contact Elaine Martin directly.
There is still time to apply for the 2021 Diversity Visa Lottery. Applications are accepted until November 5, 2019. For more information, see the latest video on YouTube.
As a result of the changes to the analysis of Public Charge for immigration purposes, USCIS has finally published the new forms. The changes take effect for cases filed starting on October 15 2019, but the government did not publish the required forms until late on October 9.
Starting on October 15, 2019, only the recent editions of the following forms will be accepted by USCIS:
The latest editions of these forms all have new questions related to the public charge grounds of inadmissibility.
In addition to the changed forms. most Adjustment of Status applicants will need to include a new Form I-944 with the applications. The following categories are exempt from the public charge requirements and therefore do not need to file the I-944:
For everyone other than these exempt categories, the following rules apply to Adjustmnent of Status applicants:
You must file an I-944 and an I-864 (Affidavit of Support) if you are an
You file just an I-944 if you are a
The public charge rules are complex and the new Form I-944 is very detailed and requests extensive information about the applicant's income, tax filings, language and other skills, assets, receipt of public benefits, etc. More information on the public charge rule is in this YouTube video and a demonstration of the Form I-944 is in this video.
We expect that there will be a lot of developments in this area in the next few weeks and months, especially regarding lawsuits that are trying to stop the riles and forms taking effect. Please check back for information, and subscribe to my YouTube channel for the most recent updates.
Call +1-214-329-4148 if you would like to discuss the impact of the new rules on your specific case.
The US Department of State (DOS) has published instructions for the next round of the Diversity Visa (DV) lottery here.
The online entry registration period for the DV-2021 lottery is 12:00 pm (ET) on October 2, 2019, and will continue until 12:00 pm (ET) on November 5, 2019..
What is the Diversity Visa program?
Congress established the diversity visa program through the Immigration Act of 1990 in an effort to promote immigration from countries underrepresented in the United States. In the DOS's own words:
DVs are intended to provide an immigration opportunity for persons who are not from “high admission” countries. U.S. law defines “high admission countries” as those from which a total of 50,000 persons in the Family-Sponsored and Employment-Based visa categories immigrated to the United States during the previous five years. Each year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) counts the family and employment immigrant admission and adjustment of status numbers for the previous five years to identify the countries that are considered “high admission” and whose natives will therefore be ineligible for the annual Diversity Visa program.
What is the screening process?
Diversity visa applicants undergo the same screening process as all intending permanent residents. This includes a background (criminal) and medical check and all are interviewed by a US government official before approval.
In addition, every DV entrant must have at least a high school education or its equivalent or have two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience.
President Trump has alleged that DV holders are "the worst of the worst." In 2017, he stated "[t]hey give us their worst people, put them in a bin... they're picking the worst of the worst..." (link) This is a gross mischaracterization of the DV program - and insulting to DV entrants like me. As mentioned, DV holders are screened before approval. The US government, not the DV holders' governments, decides who gets approved. Finally, DV holders apply voluntarily, they are not sent by anyone.
What countries are eligible?
It is easier to list the countries that are NOT eligible. For DV-2021, natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply (because more than 50,000 natives of these countries immigrated to the United States in the previous five years):
Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.
People born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible.
Even if you were not born in one of the eligible countries, you might be able to claim that country if (a) your spouse is from that country, or (b) one of your parents was born in an eligible country. For full details of how this works, see the FAQs in the instruction document linked.
Do I need a lawyer to help?
No, you do not need a lawyer to help with the application. Please be very wary of anyone who suggests that they can influence your chances of success, or states that your chances are better if they "help" with the application. If you believe that someone is making such a false claim, please contact this resource:
As a "winner" of the lottery myself, 25 years ago, I encourage everyone who is eligible to apply as early as possible. The odds may be long -- but they are even longer if you don't apply. Good luck!
Elaine Martin has been practising US and global immigration law since 1997. She is an immigrant herself (from Ireland), so has a special understanding of the legal and emotional challenges involved in relocating to a new country.