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TribBlog: Immigrant Application Fees Could Rise

Citing budget cuts and a decline is revenue, the USCIS is proposing fee increases for more than two dozen immigration-related documents.

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The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the division of the Department of Homeland Security that governs lawful migration into the United States, announced today it’s proposing to increase fees to apply for or renew more than two dozen government documents.

The effort is the result of the agency’s current $200 million revenue shortfall, coupled with budget cuts of about $160 million within the department, said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. The proposed fee change comes three years after the agency’s most recent increase, but would not affect the current $595 fee associated with the application for naturalized citizenship, the N-400.

“Our agency has determined that the act of requesting and obtaining U.S. citizenship deserves special consideration given the unique nature of this benefit to the individual applicant, the significant public benefit to the nation and the nation’s proud tradition of welcoming US citizens,” said Mayorkas.

What was not given the same protection, however, was the I-687, which is used to apply for status as a temporary resident. USCIS is proposing an increase from $710 to $1,130. The application fee to replace a permanent resident card would increase from $290 to $365 and the fee to petition for an alien relative via the I-130 form would increase from $355 to $420. Overall, the weighted average increase is about 10 percent.

The public will have 45 days to weigh in on the issue during a public comment period that could begin as quickly as Friday, Mayorkas said, and USCIS was quick to say the fee-change proposal was only in its initial stage. A final proposal will be drafted after the question and answer period. Public comments may be submitted at www.regulations.gov.

The agency is also proposing lowering some fees where processing costs were lower then expected, including the I-698, used to adjust status from temporary alien to permanent resident. That fee could fall from $1,370 to $1,020. The fee to petition for an alien fiancée via the I-129F will decrease to $340 from $455 and the N-565, used to replace a naturalization or citizenship document, would fall from $380 to $345.

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