USCIS Publishes Fee Increase Rule in Federal Register in June 2010

USCIS has published notice of its rule to increase immigration filing fees in the June 2010 Federal Register.  The increases average 10 percent per petition or application.  USCIS states that a comprehensive review of fees regularly occurs every two years and it is to ensure full recovery of costs and maintenance of adequate services.  It also states that it has met or surpassed its processing times goals in its 2008/2009 review.

There will be no fee for military naturalization applications.  USCIS proposes a new fee of $615 for processing civil surgeon designations.  A medical exam performed by a designated civil surgeon must accompany all applications to adjust status (Form I-485) and V status applications (Form I-539).  DHS also proposes a fee for regional service center designations under the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program.  This program, known as the EB-5, allows foreign nationals to obtain legal permanent residency if they invest a certain level of capital and create a certain number of jobs in the US.  One aspect of this program encourages foreign nationals to invest in distinct economic “regional centers.”

USCIS proposes to increase the following fees for forms that include biometrics, including the following:  Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status, from $1,010 to $1,070; the Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residency, from $545 to $590; Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, from $675 to $680.

While USCIS has indeed sped up its processing of many applications, including the family and employment-based Form I-485 and Form I-140, other parts of the immigration system are still woefully slow, including the PERM labor certification application run through the Department of Labor.  Also, the prodigious backlog in immigrant visa numbers is causing great stresses for foreign nationals waiting years to obtain legal permanent residency.  Immigrant visa numbers need to be increased drastically to take into account the increased demand for such numbers based on the growth of our economy and need for foreign skilled workers.  This economic slump is only temporary and soon we will be faced with a dearth of skilled workers again to fuel and sustain a strong economy.