A Proposal to Raise Immigration Fees

By Michael J. Spychalski

The cost of obtaining a permanent resident card looks as though it is going up.  However, the cost of obtaining citizenship will remain the same.  Currently, the permanent residence fee is $930.  There will soon be an increase in this fee of $55, bringing the fee to a total of $985.  The fingerprint fee will also go up, from $80 to $85.  And the fee for the I-130 petition of alien relative will increase from $355 to $455.  

These fee increases are meant to cover the $2.3 billion it costs to process these applications.  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) expects $2.1 billion to cover these costs this year.  But even with the fee increase, the difference will not be made up.  USCIS is going to ask Congress for an additional $248 million for the 2011 fiscal year that begins in October, and additional money to cover military naturalizations.

The last time USCIS raised its fees was in July of 2007, helping to trigger a flood of citizenship applications.  But since then, citizenship applications have slowed.  There have also been proposals to increase fees in other programs, such as the EB-5 investor visas that allow aliens to invest in a program that creates jobs here in the United States.

Fees for some other applications would go down, though, such as for petitions to legally bring a fiancée or orphan to the United States.  President Obama’s main goal is to make the citizenship system faster and cheaper.  The public will have 45 days to comment on these proposed fee increases after they are published in Thursday’s Federal Register.  The new fees would take effect in September of this year.

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