fee increases

Legal Challenge to Immigration Fee Increases: A Closer Look

In a significant legal challenge against the Biden administration, a coalition comprising an immigrant investor, an investors' advocacy group, and a technology trade group has filed a lawsuit to contest recent immigration fee hikes. The case, lodged in a Colorado federal court, underscores a growing concern among various stakeholders about the transparency and justification of increased costs associated with immigration processes.

Samantha Moody, a Canadian citizen and EB-5 investor visa holder, alongside the American Immigrant Investor Alliance and the IT Service Alliance, argues that the fee increases, which were finalized in January without adequate public disclosure of the underlying calculations, violate essential principles of administrative law and fairness. The plaintiffs point out that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) failed to provide public access to data that would elucidate the government's rationale behind the new fee structure. Moreover, they highlight an inconsistency in the agency's approach to calculating fees, questioning the shift from using net income to gross income as a basis for determining fee amounts for small and large businesses.

Particularly contentious is the increase in fees for EB-5 investors, which the plaintiffs claim lacks the requisite fee study mandated by the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022. This aspect of the lawsuit sheds light on the complexities and evolving nature of immigration finance regulations, emphasizing the need for a clear and consistent methodology in fee assessment.

The fee adjustments, which mark the first significant update since 2016, have stirred debate within the business and legal communities, particularly given their potential impact on hiring foreign workers amid ongoing labor shortages. Critics of the rule argue that the increased financial burden could exacerbate hiring challenges, putting additional strain on industries reliant on immigrant talent.

The lawsuit seeks not only to invalidate the new fee regulation but also to obtain a judicial declaration that the administration breached the Administrative Procedure Act by enacting the fee increases without proper legal and procedural adherence. With the new fees slated to take effect on April 1, the plaintiffs have urged the court to halt their implementation pending the resolution of the legal challenge.

This case highlights a pivotal issue in immigration law: the balance between the government's need to fund immigration services, including asylum applications, and the imperative to ensure that fee structures are fair, transparent, and legally sound. The plaintiffs clarify that their objective is not to impede the collection of reasonable fees for immigration benefits but to ensure that any fee regulation is enacted in compliance with established legal and procedural standards.

Represented by attorneys from Bless Litigation LLC, The Galati Law Firm, and Wasden Law, the plaintiffs' legal team underscores the importance of adherence to the law in the enactment of immigration-related fees. The outcome of this case could have far-reaching implications for immigration policy, fee structures, and the principles of administrative governance.

As the legal proceedings unfold, the immigration community and stakeholders await a resolution that upholds the principles of transparency, fairness, and legal integrity in the administration of immigration services and fee structures.


Rae Ann Varona, "New Suit Aims To Block Immigration Fee Hikes," Law360, March 21, 2024.

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