Not that it ever was inexpensive to apply for a green card to become a permanent resident or to apply for naturalization to become a citizen, but it’s now about the break the piggy bank.

The current fee for individuals applying for permanent residency from within the U.S. is $1,225. That amount includes the initial and all renewal applications for a work permit (Employment Authorization Document or “EAD”) and a travel permit (Advance Parole or “AP”) while the permanent residency application (I-485 Application to Adjust Status) is pending. The new fee structure reduces the base fee for the I-485 application to $1,130 for all applicants, regardless of age, but excludes the EAD and AP applications. The fees for those two additional applications will be $550 for the EAD and $590 for AP. Submitting all three applications together now will cost $2,270.

Naturalization applications now have a $725 filing fee. The new fee will be $1,160 for online filings and $1,170 for applications submitted by mail.

The new filing fees go into effect October 2, 2020. The average fee increase for all immigration benefit applications is 20%. That stands in stark contrast to the 85% increase for permanent residency with EAD/AP applications and the 60% increase for naturalization.

If U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services were committed to better and faster service, the filing fee increases may be easier to accept. The opposite unfortunately is true. It could not be more telling through USCIS’ re-naming of the National Customer “Service” Center to the Customer “Contact” Center. That shift, along with some EAD applications pending for more than seven months, raises substantial questions about whether an organization that relies largely on filing fees to operate can manage itself efficiently.

Covid-19 has introduced a host of uncertainties into USCIS processing times with office closings and re-openings with reduced capacity. Nonetheless, if you’re eligible to apply for permanent residency or citizenship, you can save quite a bit of money by submitting your application before October 2, 2020.