US immigration fee changes

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By Caribbean News Now Contributor

FORT LAUDERDALE, USA — Visitors to the United States now pay reduced filing fees when applying to extend their stay or change their non-immigrant status. The new fee changes became effective last Tuesday, 23 November. Previously, visitors paid a filing fee of US$300 for each application to extend their stay or change their status. This has now been reduced to US$290.

Reduced filing fees for other applications and petitions also became effective last Tuesday. Among them are Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), Application for Family Unity Benefits, Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition as well as others.

The new fee change has also increased filing fees for some petitions and applications. Among the increases are Application to Replace Permanent Resident card, Application for Replacement of Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Petition for an Alien Relative, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, Application for Employment Authorization, Request For Premium Processing Service among others.

The new immigration filing fee changes are based on a fee review which was conducted and recently concluded by the United States Citizenship and Immigration services (USCIS). Under US law, USCIS is required to conduct a filing fee review every two years to determine whether the operational costs of administering US immigration laws, processing applications and petitions and providing the required infrastructure are being met. About 90 percent of the USCIS budget comes from filing fees. The remaining funds come from appropriations provided by the US Congress each year.

USCIS indicates that the fee revenue for fiscal years 2008 and 2009 was much lower than projected and the fee revenue for fiscal year 2010 is low. The new fee changes that were introduced last Tuesday are to recover operational costs. For the fiscal year 2011, USCIS has a US$2.8-billion budget request and about US$2.4-billion will come from filing fees. The Application for Naturalization filing fee remains US$595. Also, service members and veterans of the US armed forces who are eligible to file an Application for Naturalization pay no filing fee.

Information courtesy of: Uudenmaan Lakimiehet Oy, with full law firm support in Florida.

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