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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2731

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Proposes Fee Hikes

Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent Asian Tribune

Washington D.C. 02 February ( U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is proposing the first major adjustment in its fee structure since 1998, which could mean higher costs as early as mid-2007 for those who apply for green cards, adjust their residency status or want to bring their relatives to the United States, says U.S. Department of State in a press release.

The proposal does not by itself raise fees but rather is part of a regulatory process that requires a U.S. government agency to explain what it proposes to do and why, and then to allow the public to comment, it adds.

The ‘Asian Tribune’ intends placing this information to its readership in the Asian region to be prepared to pay higher fees for services they obtain from their respective United States Embassies or consulates in their respective countries.

For those aliens already domiciled in the United States, the higher fees will affect when they apply for their Green Card, which is the permanent residency status, or adjusting their status in the United States.

The proposal would exempt victims of trafficking and domestic violence from certain initial application fees, while continuing to offer fee waivers for those applying for asylum and members of the U.S. armed forces filing for naturalization. USCIS waives fees on a case-by-case basis for those judged unable to pay, the State Department further notes.

USCIS is required to recover fully the costs of the benefits and services it provides. It last comprehensively reviewed and adjusted its fees in 1998.

“As a fee-based agency, we must be able to recover the costs necessary to administer an efficient and secure immigration system that ultimately improves service delivery, prevents future backlogs, closes security gaps, and furthers our modernization efforts,” said USCIS Director Emilio Gonzalez January 31 in announcing the proposal.

USCIS is proposing a substantial fee increase that would enable the agency to improve dramatically the services it provides rather than merely to maintain the status quo. For example, USCIS says that it would be able to reduce average application processing times by 20 percent with the additional money generated.

USCIS also plans to improve the timeliness of background checks and its ability to identify fraud.

Some examples of the proposed fee increases follow:

• Application to Replace a Permanent Resident Card (I-90) – current fee is $190; proposed fee is $290

• Petition for Alien Fiancé (I-129F) – current fee is $170; proposed fee is $455

• Application to Register Permanent Status or Adjust Status (I-485) – current fee is $325; proposed fee is $905

• Application for Naturalization (N-400) – current fee is $330; proposed fee is $595

Asian Tribune

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