On July 31, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a final rule to adjust the fees associated with certain immigration and naturalization benefits. The fees were being adjusted to ensure that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would be able to recoup the costs of the services it provides. USCIS is primarily funded by fees collected as part of the process of petitioning for certain immigration and naturalization benefits. According to DHS, without an adjustment of fees, USCIS would be underfunded by approximately $1 billion per year. This final rule was set to become effective as of October 2, 2020.
However, on September 29, 2020, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White of the Northern District of California granted a motion for a preliminary injunction and stay of effective date of the final rule. The Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and other nonprofit organizations that provide a variety of services to low income immigration benefit applicants, filed the motion to enjoin the implementation of the final rule and stay its effective date. Following a hearing that took place on September 25, Judge White determined that the plaintiffs had met their burden. Neither the plaintiffs nor defendants in that case had addressed what should be the geographic scope of the injunctive relief sought. Judge White concluded that the plaintiffs did not operate in a way which lends itself easily to specific geographic boundaries. As a result, the court concluded that the relief should be universal, warranting uniform and nationwide relief.