Wednesday 14th July 2010

US Immigration Fees to Increase

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are intending to increase immigration rates on the majority of immigration applications according to news reports issued in recent weeks.

The USCIS proposed a new set of prices covering the majority of immigration applications last week in response to a revenue shortfall of almost $200 million. The requested increases, which are being planned just three years after the last round of fee increases, will be put into place in the next few months if they successfully pass a public comment period.

Any expatriates in the Unites States who wish to apply for a green card, which will provide them with the right to live and work in the U.S. permanently, will now see the price of their application rise from $930 to $985. Any expatriates who wish to apply to become temporary residents will also face a massive fee increase from $420 to $1,130. Other increases are proposed for replacement green cards ($290 to $365), while application fees for permanent U.S. citizenship will remain the same at $595.

The USCIS is required by law to review their fee structure on a regular basis in order to ensure that processing revenue meets their full costs. Discussing the decision to leave the application fee for U.S. citizenship the same, Ali Mayorkas, director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services commented: “The act of requesting and obtaining U.S. citizenship deserves special consideration given the unique nature of this benefit.”

The new proposals have been met with some criticism from critics who believe that the former 2007 immigration fee increases led to a drop in application for green cards and temporary residency. If further increases produce similar results it is anticipated that the workload of the USCIS will diminish accordingly and a raise in rates will not be required.

Other criticisms have been raised regarding the levels of service provided by the agency. David Leopold, President–elect of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), further criticized the plans saying: “The problem that you’ve got is you’ve got these fee increases but we don’t have any quality in how the decisions are made…you have some poor quality within decision making body. Even though the customers, the people, paying fee keeps getting their fees raised.”

Immigration attorney Victor Cerda echoed his concerns: "I don't think anybody would object to fee increases if the service has improved," he said. "But it's not unusual that you have cases that get lost, you have to make tons of calls to find out who knows what. (The fee increase) is just another kick in the gut."

The proposed fee increases were published in the US Federal Register last month and are currently undergoing a 45- day public comment period prior to being enacted.

Read the full article: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jun/9/administration-seeks-immigration-fees-hike/

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