What’s the deal with the new USCIS fee increase? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking. Immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. I don’t have a ton of information for you on this other than the fact that as of October 1st, 2020, a few days ago, the federal judge in California has struck down the impending USCIS fee increase. So tomorrow, October 2nd, fees were supposed to go way, way up on a lot of different types of cases. Some crafty lawyers, including the lawyers at the American Immigration Lawyers Association and a law firm called Sidley and Austin, they filed a lawsuit and they challenged the legality of the fee increases.
Now, here’s where they really got creative. It’s been a sort of open secret in the last, oh I don’t know, year or so, that these appointments that Donald Trump has been making to the head of Homeland Security, the head of USCIS, that these have been illegal. They have been making these appointments without following the proper procedures, and so what the lawyers did is they challenged the fee increases by arguing that the officers who authorized them were not legally appointed. Then they filed an injunction in federal court to try to halt or stop the fee increases until they were legally adopted.
The judge held a hearing on a temporary restraining order, and he found that it was substantially likely that the plaintiffs, those challenging these actions by the USCIS heads, that those actions were in fact not done properly, and they were done illegally. So you’re talking about an agency that can’t even pull off a fee increase. It’s just a testament to what a mess this agency has become, how the people that Donald Trump surrounds himself with in the immigration context are absolute morons, and how the courts are still so important to protect the rights of people to make sure that the law is followed.
We were really happy to see about this ruling. Now, the only trick bag is, is that new forms and new fees were supposed to go into effect tomorrow, so now everybody’s up in the air. I’m expecting some guidance from USCIS in the next few days as to how they’re going to handle it. I suspect that they’re going to maintain the former fee structure until they can figure out a way to increase the fees the way that they want to in a manner that is legal. Now, hopefully this will tie things up enough until at least after the election. Then if Joe Biden wins, the thought would be then that USCIS would be run by people who actually know how to run an agency, and who aren’t just trying to drive it into the ground, so stay tuned.
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