Increase Certain Fees Charged by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Customs and Border Protection by 20 Percent
CBO periodically issues a compendium of policy options (called Options for Reducing the Deficit) covering a broad range of issues, as well as separate reports that include options for changing federal tax and spending policies in particular areas. This option appears in one of those publications. The options are derived from many sources and reflect a range of possibilities. For each option, CBO presents an estimate of its effects on the budget but makes no recommendations. Inclusion or exclusion of any particular option does not imply an endorsement or rejection by CBO.
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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are agencies within the Department of Homeland Security that oversee lawful immigration and work to prevent unlawful entry into the United States. USCIS assesses fees on immigration and naturalization applicants and collected about $5.2 billion in fees in 2021. CBP collected about $3.6 billion in user fees in 2021, including fees for merchandise processing. The fees serve as an important funding source for both agencies, and under current law, both have the authority to spend most fees they collect to support their operations without further appropriation. The Congressional Budget Office projects that CBP's fees will grow at a faster rate than USCIS's over the 2023–2032 period.
This option would introduce a 20 percent surcharge on some fees assessed by UCSIS: immigration examinations fees, H-1B nonimmigrant petitioner fees for highly skilled foreign workers, and fraud prevention and detection fees. It would add the same surcharge to certain fees collected by CBP; those fees are immigration inspection user fees, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) customs fees, and merchandise processing fees. Unlike the current fees, many of which are spent for the agencies' operational costs, the revenue from the new surcharge would remain with the Treasury, thereby reducing the federal deficit.