Politics

BREAKING: Biden Admin Makes It Free for Some People To Apply for Green Cards

Fee changes scheduled to go into effect this April by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will make it free for certain individuals to apply for green cards.

The USCIS final rule, outlined in a 207-page document released Wednesday, is the first time that fees have been adjusted since December 2016. This will affect fees for petitions and applications filed on or after April 1. USCIS said after the unveiling of the final rule that fees compose almost the entirety of the agency, with just 4 percent of funding coming from congressional appropriations.

On Sunday, a 370-page border bill was unveiled in the U.S. Senate that, if supported and ultimately approved, would affect myriad rules towards asylum, border wall construction, and federal authority to deter days-long, rolling migrant encounters. House Speaker Mike Johnson has called the legislation “worse than expected” and he, along with other House Republicans, have expressed little hope in the bill gaining enough support in the chamber.

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The USCIS final rule published on January 30 includes an I-929 Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant, which, under the new provisions, will decrease from the current $230 rate last set in December 2016 to a cost of $0 once the new fee structure is implemented.
Immigration Border Green Cards Visa
Border Patrol processes migrants near the highway on February 4, 2024, outside Eagle Pass, Texas. New fee changes being imposed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would make it free for some individuals applying…
SERGIO FLORES/AFP via Getty Images

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U nonimmigrant status, or U visa, is set aside for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity, according to USCIS. It stems from the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act in October 2000.

USCIS declined to comment to Newsweek on specifics related to its final rule changes.

Lewis Francis, an immigration attorney with the firm Parson, Behle & Latimer, told Newsweek via email on Monday that the change for U-1 nonimmigrants “probably merits the fee exemption, given that negatively impacted group.”

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A bigger issue within the final rule is shifting the burden of asylum application fees to business-based applications for legal immigration, he said.

The rule includes a new “Asylum Program Fee” of $600 per worker that must be paid by employers that file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, or Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) exempts that fee for nonprofit petitioners and reduces it by half for small employers, the latter of which must pay $300 for full-time employees of companies with 25 or fewer employees.

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