Bar News - November 16, 2016
Immigration Agency to Increase Filing Fees
By: George Bruno and Enrique Mesa
Hang on to your reindeer, because the US Citizenship and Immigration Service plans to increase filing fees for immigrants seeking a visa or green card by as much as 25 percent on Dec. 23.
In some cases the increases are more – a lot more.
For example, the fee for a “Petition for Alien Fiancé” goes from $340 to $535, while the five-page application for a travel document increases from $360 to $575. Employers take a hit, too: the “Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker” rises from $580 to $700. Adjusting status from, say, student to green card based on marriage, expect to pay $1,140, up from $985. The biggest fee hike goes to alien entrepreneurs seeking a green card, $1,500 to $3,675, an increase of more than 100 percent. If the petitioner is already in the US, remember to add the adjustment of status fee of $1,140. Total: $4,815, spouse not included. Then, add attorney fees, all real money.
US citizens don’t escape the hefty USCIS fee increases, either, if they lose their naturalization certificates. Replacement goes from $600 to $1,170, a 95 percent increase.
Not generally known, the US immigration system relies on the fees of immigrants, not taxpayer funding, to operate. In spite of the sizable fees, service is notoriously poor. For example, processing a petition to immigrate a spouse to the US can take almost a year, while the married couple lives apart. An investment visa application to create US jobs can take almost two years. Want to replace a lost or stolen green card? Expect to wait six months or longer. Meanwhile, without an official ID, don’t try to open a bank account, buy a bus ticket, or apply for a driver’s license. And it is not getting better, or cheaper.
So, if you have clients seeking immigration benefits, best advice is to file early to avoid the holiday rush and increased fees.
Attorneys George Bruno & Enrique Mesa, practice immigration law, at LawServe, Manchester, NH.