By Attorneys Robert L. Reeves and Joseph I. Elias
On July 30, 2007, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will increase many immigration fees dramatically. The USCIS said that the fee increase will allow it to reduce processing times by 20%. The fee increase has been the subject of Congressional inquiry and pleas from advocates and citizens not to increase fees because they can unfairly place immigration benefits out of reach for many immigrants.
Nevertheless, the USCIS announced the fee increase which serves as a jarring wakeup call for immigrants processing applications to file as soon as possible. For example, an application for citizenship will increase from $255 to $460. The real tragedy is the increased cost for adjusting to a permanent resident status. This fee has gone from $575 to $1,650 per person! This figure does not include the $1,000 245(i) penalty fee that allows some undocumented immigrants to adjust status or the costs of the medical exam which can range from $175 to $200 per person. Children under 14 will pay slightly lower fees, but still an increase from the current fee. To put it into context, a family of 4 can expect to pay $7,400 in USCIS fees to file for a green card. This fee cannot be financed and must be paid in full to the USCIS. The same family, if adjusting under 245(i) can expect to pay an additional $4,000 bringing the total up to $11,400.
Immigrant visa petitions for relatives has gone up from $190 to $355 per person. Employment-based immigrant visa petition fees will increase from $195 to $475. A fiancé visa application fee has also gone up from $170 to $455. Nonimmigrant visa petitions such as H-1B, E-2s, and L-1As will jump from $190 to $320. This does not include the additional fees that H-1B petitions have. The total H-1B fees for a new employer or first extension will go from $2,190 to $3,320. Expedite processing would be an additional $1,000. A B-2 tourist extension of status will jump from $200 to $300.
At Reeves & Associates we have written open letters to Congress to provide relief from the fee increase and continue to discuss this with Congress. We urge our readers to call their Congressional representatives to stop the fee increase. If you do not know who your representative is, visit our website at www.rreeves.com and enter your zip code in the Write to Congress box on the left hand side. You will then be provided with the names and contact information for your senators and representative.
There is a little less than 2 months left before the immigration fees increase. Applicants that can, should act now to take advantage of the lower fees and file their applications with the USCIS. Otherwise, the expense for filing will be significantly higher.