The USCIS is proposing raising average immigration filing fees by 66%, as soon as June 2007. The USCIS’ press release attempts to draw a distinction between this immigration fee increase, which is targeted at meeting service goals, and other fee increases, which were inflation-driven. The USCIS has developed a “portal page” that contains relevant information about the proposal: View Proposal on USCIS Website
USCIS’ goal is to effect a 20% reduction in average processing times by 2009. Some commentators have questioned why a 66% increase is needed to effect only a 20% increase in average processing times. These critics also point to the USCIS’ history of announcing processing time goals while never actually meeting these goals. The USCIS understandably differs and points toward increasing costs which are necessary in order develop and maintain “the type of exceptional immigration service our nation expects and deserves.”
The public is invited to comment on the proposed fee increases by email, fax, or regular mail. The instructions are on page three of this document. Proposed Rule Document at USCIS Website
Once the comment period is over, the USCIS will consider the comments and announce which fee increases will be implemented. It is entirely possible that all proposed fee increases will go into effect regardless of the public’s comments. That having been said, federal law compels the USCIS to consider all comments.
HLG is in the process of preparing our comments to the proposed fee increase. As is our custom we will release our comments to the public. We also invite any clients to contact us if they would like our assistance to help them prepare their comments.
One significant legislator has already chimed in. Just this morning Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law, issued this statement: “Although I want to ensure that USCIS has the necessary resources to carry out its mission, the scope and scale of this fee increase on immigration applications raises many questions for me. I plan to carefully examine the USCIS’ new study and the justification for this increase with my colleagues on the Immigration Subcommittee before its implementation. Changes in the current fee structure must be fair and reasonable.”
The actual fee increases are published on page 86 of this document. For HLG clients, the fee increase targets some of the most popular processes:
|Form No.||Old Fee||Proposed Fee||Difference|
|I-90||$ 190||$ 290||$ 100|
|I-129||$ 190||$ 320||$ 130|
|I-131||$ 170||$ 305||$ 135|
|I-140||$ 195||$ 475||$ 280|
|I-485||$ 325||$ 905||$ 580|
|I-765||$ 180||$ 340||$ 160|