On September 29, 2020, Judge Jeffrey S. White of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction enjoining the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) proposed fee increases for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) immigration and citizenship applications. The final rule adjusting the fees was set to take effect on October 2, 2020, with some case types set to see substantial fee increases.
The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit that Immigrant Legal Resource Center along with several nonprofit organizations filed in August 2020. The case remains in active litigation, but Judge White issued a nationwide injunction to temporarily halt the fee increases, stating that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits.
In his ruling, Judge White pointed to the strength of the plaintiffs’ claims that Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf and his predecessor had been invalidly appointed to their posts and lacked the legal authority to issue the final fee increase rule. He also noted that the nationwide injunction was in the public interest because the implementation of the rule raising application costs would have a negative impact on low-income applicants for immigration benefits. Previously, “the United States did not charge a fee to apply for asylum,” Judge White noted.
Current USCIS filing fees will remain in effect until the injunction is lifted.
Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments with respect to the ongoing litigation and will post updates on our Immigration blog as additional information becomes available.