Updated October 2nd, 2020

A nationwide temporary injunction has blocked the Department of Homeland Security fee increase to process certain applications and petitions for immigration benefits. This is a preliminary injunction that is currently in effect and will remain in effect pending a final adjudication.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), had officially increased their fees for a majority of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration applications including U.S. Travel Waivers. Effective October 2nd, 2020, the processing fee for the U.S. Waiver application (I-192) was to be increased from $585.00 USD to $1400.00 USD. Due to the injunction, fee increases are currently not in effect.

It is important to note that USCIS is an agency within DHS that administers the country’s immigration systemand the are fee funded, in other words they recover their cost of services through the fees that they charge. After USCIS conducted a comprehensive biennial fee review and determined that current fees do not recover the cost, and the agency adjusted their fee schedule accordingly.

“These overdue adjustments in fees are necessary to efficiently and fairly administer our nation’s lawful immigration system, secure the homeland and protect Americans.”

Joseph Edlow, USCIS Deputy Director

Why do you need a Waiver to go to the U.S.?

A US Entry Waiver, allows you to cross the border into the United States without being denied on the grounds of having a criminal record. If you have been denied entry into the US, you will require a US Entry Waiver. Not all Canadians with criminal records will require a US Entry Waiver. A drug conviction or a crime of moral turpitude will also require you to get an entry waiver.

Your waiver will be good for one to five years at which point it needs to be renewed. Although we have seen many five-year waivers granted on the first try, you’ll have a better chance of getting a longer waiver on a second or third application.

Learn more about travelling with a criminal record and your travel options here.

How does this affect travellers to the U.S.? 

The final rule states that any new or renewal US Waiver  applications submitted on or after that date must be accompanied with the new processing fees. This fee increase affects all U.S. Waiver applications that are in progress, for completed applications that have yet to be submitted to DHS, and for all Waiver renewals. If you were ready to submit your application before this date but you were unable to due to border closures, the new fee schedule is not applicable, as long as the injunction is in effect.

If you are currently in the process of applying for or renewing your US Waiver, and instructed to file your application directly at your local crossing, you will not be required to pay the new US Waiver application fee of $1,400 USD, as long as the injunction is in effect.

Is there an exemption for the fee increase?

Recognizing that some applicants cannot pay the filing fees, USCIS established a fee waiver process for certain forms and benefit types. They will approve a fee waiver only if you clearly demonstrate that you are unable to pay the filing fees due to being in receipt of means-tested benefit.

Who qualifies for the exemption?

A means-tested benefit is a public benefit where a person’s eligibility for the benefit, the amount of the benefit, or both, is based on the person’s income and resources. USCIS will consider means-tested benefits that are Federally, state, or locally funded and granted by the benefit agency.

Applicants who are in receipt in a means tested benefit for example:  Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (known as “SNAP” and formerly called Food Stamps), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), among others will qualify to apply. Consult with your benefit-granting agency to determine whether any Federal, state, or local public benefit that you may receive qualifies as a means-tested benefit. For the purposes of determining an inability to pay the filing fee for the application, the following are NOT considered means-tested benefits: Medicare; unemployment benefits; Social Security retirement benefits; Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI); Social Security Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (RSDI); or student financial aid.

To determine if you are eligible, check your eligibility here.

If you would like to find out more about US Entry Waiver, please contact our advisors for a free consultation at 1 (866) 972-7366.