News - July 2010

New Fees Now in Effect for Nonimmigrant Visas; USCIS Proposal to Increases Fees Under Consideration

The fees for government processing of visas have again increased. Effective June 4, nonimmigrant visa and border crossing card application processing fees are $140 for most non-petition-based nonimmigrant visas (machine-readable visas or MRVs) and $14 for Border Crossing Cards (BCCs). The Department of State also established new, higher fees for certain categories of petition-based nonimmigrant visas and treaty trader and investor visas (all of which are also MRVs): H-1B, L, O, P, Q, and R nonimmigrant visa fees are now $150; fees for E visas are $390; and fees for K visas are $350.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced in early June that it plans to increase fees that will amount to an average increase of about 10% across the board, citing lower than projected fee revenues for 2010-2011. USCIS issued its formal proposal on June 11 with a 45-day period during which the public can comment.

While most of the proposed fee increases for individual petitions and application are not shocking in and of themselves, when combined with the 66% fee increase that was implemented just three years ago, the fee increase constitutes a hefty hit for a variety of immigration service users. Here are some examples of the proposed fees: An I-130 petition for an alien relative will increase from $355 to $420; an I-140 petition for an immigrant worker will increase from $475 to $580, and an I-485 application to adjust status will increase to $1,070 (with biometrics). A significant increase is proposed for premium processing, currently $1,000; it will cost, if adopted, $1,225. Fees for administrative appeals will increase by $45, from $585 to $630.

When announcing the proposals, USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas stated that USCIS is closely reviewing the adjudicatory process to improve consistency and quality. However, some commentators have noted that in recent years the quality of the USCIS decision-making process and the agency’s ability to address systemic problems are at an all time low.  As one person recently remarked, “USCIS is going to have to dig deep, confront some difficult structural issues, and implement some massive, culture-changing fixes if the agency wants its products and services to be worthy of their new price tag.” We can only hope that with the new funding, the agency can obtain more resources to meet the challenges it faces.


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