US immigration fees set to rise in the autumn

by Ray Clancy on June 14, 2010

The cost of obtaining a green card in the US is set to rise in September but citizenship fees are to remain the same, under proposals unveiled by the immigration service.

The current basic cost of a US green card is to rise by $65 to $985 but an increase in compulsory fingerprinting charges from $80 to $85 will take the overall cost to $1,070. Citizenship fees are unchanged at $595.

The changes, expected to be confirmed next month, are the first part of immigration changes that US president Barack Obama promised voters before he came into office. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services department is also cash strapped and has been running on a shortfall of $200 million. There has also been a decline in the number of immigration applications put down to the economic downturn.

An application for temporary residence, such as students will go up drastically by $420 dollars to $1,030.  The USCIS is also proposing a new fee of $6,230 dollars for an investor’s visa that used to be free. There is also a proposal for an added $165 dollar processing fee for immigrant family petitions Alejandro Mayorkas, director of citizenship and immigration, said the fee increases were necessary and that the public would be consulted before the new structures are confirmed.

Others though have criticized the decision. David Leopold, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), said that the cost to file for immigration should rest on the entire country and not on individuals.

‘Our concern is that the decision system is way off base. The government is way too quick to deny applications and that really what we ought to be doing, rather than raising fees, is raising the level of quality that immigrants get while filing applications,’ said Leopold.

Fees for non-immigrant US visas have already been increased with a new structure coming into place earlier this month in a move intended to align the fees more closely to the administration involved with their processing.

The old flat fee of $131 has been replaced by a tiered structure, with the fees ranging from $140 to $390. For people applying for US visas from Euro zone countries, the fee has effectively increase even further as the consular’s official exchange rate is being adjusted to 82 euro cents for $1.

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