A federal judge in California has enjoined the USCIS’ new fee rule just a little more than a day before petitions and applications had to be postmarked.
Judge Jeffrey S. White’s decision in Immigrant Legal Resource Center v. Wolf was based on a finding that Chad Wolf’s appointment to the position of Acting Secretary of Homeland Security was invalid under the rules of succession and, therefore, the new rule itself was invalid. The Judge also determined that there likely were violations of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). The rule was “arbitrary and capricious” because, among other things, the Administration failed to explain in detail how it determined that the fee increases were needed and did not adequately consider the impact on applicants – particularly the negative impact on low-income populations, the Judge stated.
While the new fee rule affects and increases fees for many business-related immigration petitions, this case was focused on the increase in naturalization fees, the addition of asylum fees, and the change in fee waivers. Nevertheless, the Judge chose to enjoin the entire rule.
Although Judge White refused the Administration’s immediate request for a stay, he stated that if an appeal is filed, “nothing in this Order shall preclude [the Administration] from filing a motion to stay.” Meanwhile there are two more cases challenging the USCIS fee rule in federal courts in D.C. and Massachusetts.
We await guidance from USCIS and a response from the Administration. We will provide updates as they become available.