This year has been quite an eventful year for us all, and U.S. immigration laws and policies have not been an exception. The most pressing piece of news is that USCIS will increase their application fees on October 2, 2020. Some of the fees are being slightly reduced, but it appears that most fees are increasing significantly. In sum, USCIS is adding a fee for an asylum application, charging separate fees for forms when they are filed concurrently with a green card application, and providing a small discount for online filings. Some significant changes include for example, an application for naturalization is going from $725 to $1,190. Also, the separate application fees for when one is applying for a green card will have a significant impact.
Another hot topic in immigration law these days is regarding DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The U.S. Supreme Court in June 2020 issued a decision striking down the Trump Administration’s decision to cancel the program. After two months of silence, the USCIS issued a memorandum on how it would be implementing the new decision. Essentially, individuals who have DACA could continue to renew it, but would limit the work permit time of validity to only one year, not two, as it was before. Also, advanced parole is available only under exceptional circumstances, among provisions.
Of course, this update would not be complete without COVID-19-related news. USCIS has been working and processing applications since the world pandemic started, but at a slower rate. In June, USCIS opened its doors again and continues to slowly schedule new appointments. Immigration courts across the country are slowing starting to reopen, with San Diego Immigration Court scheduled to reopen on September 28, 2020. Also, U.S. Consulates around the world have closed for the most part, with few conducting emergency services. Needless to say, the pandemic has caused numerous different challenges for intending immigrants, families of these immigrants, and even immigration practitioners.
These are just a few updates among the many different presidential proclamations that have been issued in the last year. Among others, the public charge forms were implemented in February, then cancelled, and just recently reinstated. Also, USCIS has relaxed its policies on responding to deadlines, original signatures, and many more. Keep up with the news to stay on top of the latest.