US Citizenship & Immigration Services Proposes Increase In Fees

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has proposed to adjust fees for naturalization applications and petitions. The idea behind the increase is to improve customer service, allowing applications and petitions to be processed more quickly and close security gaps.

Emilio Gonzalez, the Director of USCIS, noted that: “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.” After a complete review of the present system, USCIS found that the current fee structure does not allow USCIS to recover the costs of providing services to adjudicate millions of applications and petitions.

USCIS projects that the revenue from a new fee structure will enable a 20 percent reduction in average application processing times by the end of fiscal year 2009, and will cut processing times by the end of fiscal year 2008 for four types of applications. These applications are the I-90 (Renew / Replace Permanent Resident Card), I-140 (Immigration Petition for Alien Worker) and I-485 (Adjust of Status to Permanent Resident), which will improve to four months from its present six months processing time, and the N-400 (Naturalization), which will improve to five months from the present seven months processing time.

The fee increases would add an average of $55 to the current cost of immigration applications, and increase the biometrics (fingerprints) fee by $20. USCIS proposes to increase fees for naturalization applications by 80%, from $330 to $595. Further, the fees for permanent resident applications would be increased 178% from $325 to $905. This is the first overall fee review the Immigration Service has performed since 1998.

The proposed fee increases will be available for public comment at for a period of 60 days, beginning on February 1, 2007. The proposal does not raise fees, but the USCIS is simply announcing its intention to do so.