USCIS changes to fee waiver process foreclosed citizenship for some low-income applicants and barred others from immigration opportunities
San Francisco, CA — Today, Judge Maxine Chesney of the Northern District of California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction barring USCIS from implementing changes that would limit access to citizenship for lawful permanent residents (green card holders), and to other immigration benefits. The ruling, issued from the bench, halts changes to the naturalization application process that would present significant barriers to citizenship for tens of thousands of non-wealthy applicants each year, and to the immigration process for many vulnerable immigrants. The USCIS rule had gone into effect on December 2.
Judge Chesney ruled that Plaintiffs were likely to succeed in their claim that USCIS failed to properly engage in the notice-and-comment rulemaking required by the Administrative Procedure Act and that the agency’s new rules making it much harder for low-income individuals to apply for fee waivers for naturalization, and other immigration benefits, are invalid as a result.
Melissa Rodgers, director of programs at the ILRC, said:
“The Trump administration tried to sneak through a major change to the nation’s immigration and naturalization laws by pretending it was simply a minor bureaucratic change, but a judge has rightly stood up for the rule of law and blocked the new fee waiver rule from taking effect. The nationwide injunction is a big win for all of those fighting the administration’s ongoing attempt to create a wealth test for citizenship. We hope the next step will be for these cruel changes to be struck down in full.”
Plaintiffs are the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), the City of Seattle, and four other naturalization legal service providers who serve low-income, citizenship-eligible legal permanent residents.
More information about the case is available at:
The complaint can be found at:
Immigrant Legal Resource Center =(ILRC) is a national nonprofit that works with immigrants, community organizations, legal professionals, and policymakers to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people. Through community education programs, legal training & technical assistance, and policy development & advocacy, the ILRC protects and defends the fundamental rights of immigrant families and communities. As a key part of its mission, ILRC serves as the lead agency for the New Americans Campaign, a national campaign aimed at increasing the number of new Americans by ensuring access to the naturalization process and trusted legal assistance.