UPDATE: On September 29, 2020, a US District Court Judge issued an order stopping the new fee increases from going into effect.
As previously described, USCIS published a new fee rule which increases prices for many common forms and benefit types. Not all prices are going up – USCIS states that fees will increase by 20% overall – but it turns out that fees are decreasing mostly for uncommon application types and increasing for the most common and important benefits.
One somewhat hidden change to the pricing is that I-485 applications appear to be decreasing in price, but in reality are becoming more expensive for most applicants. That’s because USCIS also made a separate and not widely-recognized change to separate the fees for the I-765 work permit applications and I-131 travel permit applications from the price of the I-485. Before, they were included. Now they’re separate.
The pricing for I-485 applications to adjust status is now a bit more confusing. USCIS lowered the price of form I-485 from $1,140 to $1,130, a decrease of $10. However, it also increased the price for children applying along with parents from $750 to $1,130, an increase of 51%. Finally, as mentioned above, USCIS is no longer allowing people to file forms I-765 and I-131 without a fee when that person has paid the filing fee for I-485. They are now completely separate. That means that applicants must pay an additional $410 for an I-765 work permit application and $590 for a travel permit application.
All those things considered, a person filing the same application after October 2, 2020, will pay $2,215 for a simple I-485 adjustment of status with a work permit and travel permit. That’s a 94% increase for many people. It will be more if the person also needs to file an I-130 petition, which is true for most cases. Going forward, people will have to decide whether it makes sense to seek a work or travel permit. However, for most people it is not possible to wait, potentially for years, without work while USCIS lets their application sit on a shelf. Nor can they stay in the US for years without traveling in many cases. Many people will face difficult choices that were not problems previously.
Finally, USCIS is increasing the cost for children filing along with their parents, as noted above. This means that for a US Citizen who is filing for a spouse and children, the process just became much more expensive. It will cost at least 51% more for each child filing for adjustment of status, not accounting for whether that child will need a work permit or travel permit as well.
Despite the pandemic, USCIS is still accepting new applications. It is now starting to schedule biometrics appointments for fingerprints, which are often essential for processing an application, and slowly starting to schedule in-person interviews.