The following is a message posted to the IAJGS (International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies) Public Records Access Alert mailing list:
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been sued over its recent permanent regulations on application fees, which raises application fees for many essential immigration benefits by 30 to 200 percent, and eliminates most fee waivers for qualifying low income immigrants.
The regulation covers more than the genealogy records, as it also increased the fees for immigration services. On August 20, 2020, The American Immigration Lawyers Association and eight other organizations filed the law suit to block the regulation due to the exceeding large increase in filing fees across the board. To read the law suit filing see: https://www.aila.org/infonet/aila-partners-sue-uscis-fee-rule
The focus of the litigation is that fees for low income applicants making it very difficult for them to apply for naturalization. It also challenges the rule issued under an acting Secretary of Homeland Security and there states the persons, Chad Wolf and Kevin McAleenan do not have constitutional or statutory authority to issue the regulations. The litigation also challenges the abandonment of the practice of “ability to pay” model and adoption of “beneficiary pays” model. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern district of California- San Francisco as that is where Immigrant Legal Resource Center’s principal place of business is in San Francisco, California, and East Bay Sanctuary Covenant’s principal place of business is in Berkeley, California. Other plaintiff’s are also located in California.
The suit does not address the genealogy fees, rather its focus is on the immigrant application fees. Depending on the courts determine this case the genealogy fees may be changed from what goes into effect this October 2.
If you are planning to order any records from USCIS at the current $65.00 rate for the index search and another $65.00 for the copy make certain your request is postmarked before October 2. The forms may be found at: https://www.uscis.gov/genealogy
To see previous postings about the USCIS and the fee increases, go to the archives of the IAJGS Records Access Alert at: http://lists.iajgs.org/mailman/private/records-access-alerts/. You must be registered to access the archives. To register go to: http://lists.iajgs.org/mailman/listinfo/records-access-alerts and follow the instructions to enter your email address, full name and which genealogical organization with whom you are affiliated You will receive an email response that you have to reply to or the subscription will not be finalized.
Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee