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Immigrant Processing fees may increase

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Israel

The Obama administration is requesting rate increases on most immigration applications, three years after the last round of hikes.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Wednesday proposed a new set of prices, citing efforts to close a $200 million revenue shortfall.

The price to apply for a green card — given to foreigners to live and work in the U.S. permanently — would go from $930 to $985. The cost to replace a lost green card would go from $290 to $365. And an application to become a temporary resident would rise $420 to $1,130.

The application to become a U.S. citizen will remain unchanged at $595.

"The act of requesting and obtaining U.S. citizenship deserves special consideration given the unique nature of this benefit," said Ali Mayorkas, director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is part of the Homeland Security Administration.

The 2007 rate increases prompted an initial flood of applications before the new fees went into effect. A combination of higher fees and a bad economy resulted in a sharp drop in applications in the past two years.

In 2007, the government received more than 5.7 million immigration-related applications, compared with 4.9 million in 2009. That drop led some to question why the agency needs to raise rates when its workload has diminished.

"I don't think anybody would object to fee increases if the service has improved," said Victor Cerda, an immigration attorney. "But it's not unusual that you have cases that get lost, you have to make tons of calls to find out who knows what. (The fee increase) is just another kick in the gut."

Mayorkas said the agency has cut $160 million from its budget while improving processing times for applications.

Jack Martin, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates less immigration, doesn't understand why the cost of applying for U.S. citizenship remained unchanged yet other fees rose.

"Why should people who are applying for other immigration services be expected to subsidize the naturalization process?" Martin said.

The increases come as Congress has put off immigration legislation and an Arizona law that makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally goes into effect July 29.

The timing makes Clarissa Martinez wonder what message the fee increases sends to immigrants trying to take a legal path into the country.

"It begs the question of Congress: If we want these people to take these steps, we have to make sure that we're not pricing them out of their reach," said Martinez, director of immigration and national campaigns for the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights group.

The rules will be published today in the Federal Register and undergo a 45-day public comment period before being enacted.

Emmett Fitz-Hume: I'm sorry I'm late, I had to attend the reading of a will. I had to stay till the very end, and I found out I received nothing... broke my arm.

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Filed: Timeline

Looking back at the days when the I-130 cost just that - $130.00 - but took about as many weeks to be processed, I'd say that the USCIS has at least returned some value for the increased fees. Back at the beginning of our visa journey (or farther back during my own), timeframes for application processing where counted in years or in double-digit months at best. Comparing that to the 100 days or so it took - from filing to oath - for Nani to become a US citizen, I'll say that we got a better value for the fees now than we got then.

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Filed: AOS (pnd) Country: Canada


The Great Canadian to Texas Transfer Timeline:

2/22/2010 - I-129F Packet Mailed

2/24/2010 - Packet Delivered to VSC

2/26/2010 - VSC Cashed Filing Fee

3/04/2010 - NOA1 Received!

8/14/2010 - Touched!

10/04/2010 - NOA2 Received!

10/25/2010 - Packet 3 Received!

02/07/2011 - Medical!

03/15/2011 - Interview in Montreal! - Approved!!!

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