USCIS innovation comes into force: low-income immigrants' lives will be complicated
Becoming a US citizen was not easy, but now it has become even more difficult. From December 2 to 2019, programs such as Medicaid (Children's Health Insurance Program), CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program), SNAP (food stamps), SSI (Supplemental Security Income) are no longer grounds for exemption from immigration fees of the Citizenship and Immigration Services United States (USCIS).
Not all immigrants are able to pay immigration fees for obtaining US citizenship and issuing green cards. This fee is $ 1170 for citizenship and $ 725 for a green card. Especially these innovations will affect those families that submit more than one application.
Immigrant legal aid teams claim that these rules can affect tens of thousands of people, which is about 65% of applicants who apply to USCIS every year.
This is one of the many innovations of the Trump administration that will adversely affect the lives of immigrants in the United States - both illegal and legal.
Previously, immigrants could apply for exemption from collection according to one of three criteria: if the annual family income was 150% of the federal poverty line, if they could prove their financial difficulties, or if they received certain benefits for the poor.
Now, in order to be exempted from immigration fees, immigrants must document that they are in financial difficulty. This process is rather laborious and usually requires the assistance of a lawyer.
There are numerous qualifications, heaps of documents to process, and a fairly high fee for applying. Melanie Torres is director of programs and operations for the Boston Citizenship project, which sponsors green card and citizenship workshops, writes WBUR.
The goal of a nonprofit organization is to remove barriers to naturalization. According to Torres, for most of their customers, cost is a major hurdle.
“The hardest part is the payment, the payment - not for services, but only for the application itself - is now 725 dollars,” says Torres.
The federal government previously abolished fees for people who can prove that they receive federal and state benefits, such as food stamps or Medicaid. But from December 2 this will not be enough.
USCIS will now require applicants what is called a tax certificate. Torres says getting this document will be nearly impossible for many of their clients.
USCIS will require applicants to complete Form I-912 and submit supporting documentation, including federal income tax transcripts. USCIS will not accept a letter stating that the applicant cannot pay registration fees or biometric services without a completed I-912 form. It is reported USCIS official website.
Beginning December 2, those who wish to be exempted from immigration fees must file a version of this form 10 / 24 / 19 to request a waiver of the required immigration fee. After December 2, USCIS will reject any I-912 form with a release date of 13 / 03 / 18 or earlier. USCIS will consider any cancellation request sent before December 2 in accordance with the previous immigration tax exemption policy.
“Many of our clients are elderly and do not file tax returns, do not claim to be dependent on taxes of other people, or live in informal households, so it’s really difficult to prove their income,” she says.
The Citizenship project recently filed a federal lawsuit in Boston against the Trump administration. The lawsuit disputes the changes in the fee exemption program, arguing that it will ultimately reduce the number of immigrants who can apply for citizenship. According to the complaint, about 40% of naturalization applications throughout the country provided for exemption from immigration fees in 2017.
The representative of the Citizenship and Immigration Services noted in an email that the agency relies on fees to cover the costs of its activities. The exemption from immigration fees cost the agency hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and in order to balance its budget, USCIS had to increase the cost of services.
But Torres says Trump’s administration reforms are motivated not only by fiscal problems.
“We know the election is coming,” says Torres. “We know that we are more and more interested now in the 2020 year, we see a huge increase in interest in such programs, and we know that this is because they do not want low-income immigrants to vote.”
Jessica Wogan leads political studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative group advocating stricter immigration laws. She says that new eligibility requirements for exemption from immigration fees will distribute processing costs more evenly.
“This is an attempt to make it fairer, and some people will have to try harder to prove that they are entitled to a waiver, but it’s important that we have an honest system,” says Vaughan.
As ForumDaily wrote earlier:
- Starting mid-December 2019, it is planned to upgrade some more USCIS services. According to new rates, 50 dollars will have to be paid for applying for asylum - this service will be paid for the first time in US history. The cost of other services will increase.
- DACA renewal protection fees are also increasing, which protects against deportation of illegal immigrants brought to the United States by children.
- In order to find out how much you can pay for various services, you can use the special calculator on the USCIS website, and new pricing, which may take effect on December 14, can be viewed here.
- The document on increasing the cost of immigration services was officially published in the Federal Register 14 on November 2019 of the year and is open for comment for 30 days, after which it will enter into force.
- The full text of the document can be viewed here.
- The last time the cost of immigration services increased at the end of the 2016 year.
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