Fee Increases for the DACA Program Could Put Relief Out of Reach for Immigrant Youth

United We Dream Press Releases

Washington, DC – This week, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency announced changes to the fees for many immigration services, including the I-765 form for employment authorization a key component of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), which increased by $30, and the I-131 form required for DACA recipients who wish to travel abroad which increased by $215.

The total for immigrant youth to apply for the DACA program is now $495, which must be paid every two years. According to a 2014 nationwide survey of DACA recipients conducted by Professor Tom Wong of UCSD for United We Dream and Unbound Philanthropy, 51 percent of youth with DACA reported the original $465 fee to renew the program will cause significant financial hardship for them and their families and 40 percent report knowing someone who has not applied for the program because they were unable to afford the fee. All national surveys of people with DACA have shown improved lives, changes which are put at risk by higher fees.

The fee increases come at a time when many DACA recipients are losing jobs and much needed income because of  application processing delays.

Greisa Martinez, Advocacy Director for United We Dream said:

“We are deeply disappointed by the USCIS decision to hike the fees for DACA applications and strongly urge the agency to reconsider. For the vast majority  DACA recipients, this fee increase could make work permits and deportation relief unattainable.”

“DACA beneficiaries and families have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fees to USCIS to run the program and yet, some of us are facing delays in application times which are costing us our jobs and livelihoods. We expect and insist on better service for our money and will hold officials accountable to delivering on the service we pay for.”

“DACA is transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants, like me, providing us with a ladder to financial stability and peace of mind knowing that we are not at high risk of being deported. USCIS should be working to make DACA more accessible and affordable, not less.”

*According to the latest available data from USCIS, the agency has accepted a total of 1,451,195  initial and renewal DACA applications for review. Each of those applications cost $465 for a grand total of $674,805,675. This is an approximate figure because the agency offers very limited fee waivers, though no data on the fee waivers have been made publicly available.