Pursuant to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) rulemaking, new USCIS filing fees and forms were to take effect October 2, 2020. While filing fees for certain types of immigration benefits were scheduled to decrease, the majority of fees were to increase, and some by significant amounts. In addition, the rule would have implemented policy changes, including removing certain fee exemptions, changing fee waiver requirements, and changing Premium Processing time limits, among other changes. However, on September 29, 2020, implementation of the USCIS rule was blocked in its entirety by a federal judge, meaning USCIS will not require the new fees or forms.
It is unclear how long the rule will remain blocked. The decision to block enforcement of the rule was based in significant part on questions regarding the authority of Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, and the legality of his appointment to this position. While the government has 60 days to file an appeal, the Trump administration has not filed an appeal in separate litigation where the decision was also based on the unlawful appointment of Wolf, which some suggest is predictive of how the government will respond in this instance as well. In addition, another challenge to the new USCIS rule is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, but a decision has yet to be issued in that case. Petitioners and applicants for immigration benefits should, therefore, be sure to consult with immigration counsel regarding the status of the rule.