Green card holders in Kentucky and around the country will likely welcome news that a federal judge has blocked Trump Administration plans to increase immigration fees. The ruling was handed down on Sept. 29 in a California district court. The revised fee schedule, which was scheduled to go into effect on Oct. 2, would have increased the cost of becoming a naturalized citizen from $640 to $1,170.
The judge found that the last two secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security were probably appointed illegally. Kevin McAleenan and Chad Wolf were both chosen to head up the DHS even though they were not in line for the position under the succession rules that were in place at the time of their appointments. Kirstjen Nielsen was the last DHS secretary to be confirmed by the Senate. She stepped down in April 2019. The judge also blocked the revised fee schedule because he felt that the Trump Administration had not adequately considered how it would impact low-income applicants.
If the revised fees had gone into effect, asylum seekers would have been required to pay $50 to submit a petition, $550 to obtain work authorization and $30 to cover the cost of collecting biometrics. In addition to increasing the cost of naturalization, the revised rules would have eliminated fee waivers for green card holders unable to pay.
Fees, endless paperwork, grueling interviews and strict time limits can make applying for a visa or green card a frustrating experience. Attorneys with experience in citizenship and naturalization law may help to make the process less formidable by explaining the steps involved, checking that applications and other documents are completed correctly and sent in on time, and preparing those who wish to live and work legally in the United States for their green card, naturalization or visa interviews.