Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)Commissioner Doris Meissner has directed the INS to ensure its fees are based on actual costs for providing its various services. According to the INS, it is losing close to $1
million a day in fees.
Meissner outlined four internal milestones that would signal the beginning
of those improvements:
- The case backlog beginning to subside and the applicant wait time starting to be reduced;
- Uniform use of the direct mail process, in which applications are sent directly to one of the INS’s highly automated Service Centers, which allows INS district offices to focus on conducting interviews and generates a receipt-like notice so applicants have a record of when their applications were received and a number by which to track their cases; and
- The opening of all new Applicant Support Centers (ASC), which will greatly reduce inconvenience to applicants of having to retake prints and shorten the turnaround time for completing FBI background checks;
- Installation of the new CLAIMS 4.0 software to process all incoming naturalization applications, which will ensure consistency and include checks and balances that prevent applications from moving forward before all steps have been completed, including the FBI background check. In addition, this will make it possible for INS to implement a variety of methods for applicants to obtain information on demand about the status of their cases.
Meissner anticipates reaching these goals by late spring. She also said INS would not move forward until it reviews its fee waiver policy, and this proposal also invites public comment on how such a waiver might be
Immigration adjudication and naturalization fees are the sole source of funding for these services, and INS points out that it has not increased these fees in more than three years. In 1989, Congress specifically authorized these fees be imposed in keeping with the long-standing policy of shifting the cost for certain benefits from the general public to those who apply for them.
To cover the cost of fingerprinting applicants at the new ASCs, the agency also announced it will publish a regulation in the near future to implement a fee for all benefit applicants who have their fingerprints taken at INS
The following is a list of proposed INS Application and Petition Fee Increases:
I-17 Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Non-immigrant Students $140 $200 For school approval, except in the case of a school or school system owned or operated as a public educational institution or
system by the United States or a state or political subdivision thereof. I-90 Application to Replace Alien Registration Card (“Green Card”) $75 $110 For Alien Registration Receipt Card (Form I- 551) in lieu of an obsolete card or in lieu of one lost, mutilated or destroyed, or in a changed name.
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Non-immigrant Arrival-Departure Document (I-94) $65 $85 For replacement of lost, mutilated, or destroyed I-94 (e.g., required for B-1, B-2 visa holders).
I-129/ I-129H I-129L Petitions for Nonimmigrant Workers $75 Base Fee $110 If a petition with unnamed beneficiaries, base fee per petition. If petition with named beneficiaries, base fee plus additional fee if
requesting consulate or port-of-entry notification for visa issuance or admission, requesting a change of status or extension of stay, or for including dependents. 129H: To classify as temporary worker. 129L: To employ intracompany transferee.
I- 129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) $75 $95 To classify non-immigrant as fiance(e).
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative $80 $110 To classify status of alien relative for issuance of immigrant visa
I-131 Application for Travel Document $70 $95 For issuance of reentry permit or parole.
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker $75 $115 To classify status on the basis of profession or occupation.
I-191 Application for Advance Permission to Return to Unrelinquished Domicile $90 $170 For advance permission for otherwise inadmissible applicants to reenter the United States.
I-192 Application for Advance Permission to Enter As a Nonimmigrant $90 $170 For discretionary relief of inadmissible applicants, except in an emergency case and/or where approval benefits the U.S. government.
I-193 Application for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa $95 $170 Request for waiver of passport or visa for persons applying for entry to the U.S. (e.g. expired).
I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal $95 $170 Applicant was removed from the United States and applies for reentry.
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status $130 $220 For permanent resident status and issuance of I-551 (“Green Card”)
I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur $155 $350 Application for Investor Visa.
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status $75 $120 Change of status within nonimmigrant categories.
I-600 I-600A Petition to Classify Orphan As an Immediate Relative $155 $405 Application for orphans. I-600A: for advance processing.
I-601 Application for Waiver on Grounds of Excludability $95 $170 For waiver of ground of excludability for inadmissible applicants.
I-612 Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, As Amended $95 $170 Waiver of two-year residence requirement for exchange visitors.
I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence $80 $125 To make permanent the 2-year conditional period of residence based on marriage to a U.S. citizen.
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization $70 $100 Applicant for work permit.
I-817 Application for Voluntary Departure Under the Family Unity Act $80 $120 Applicant of family members for voluntary departure.
I-824 Action on an Approved Application or Petition $30 $120 Request for additional action on approved petition.
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Residence $90 $345 Self-explanatory
N-400 Application for Naturalization $95 $225 Self-explanatory N-565 Application for Replacement of Naturalization/Citizenship Certificate $65 $135 Self-explanatory
N-600 Application for Certificate of Citizenship $100 $160 Self-explanatory
Application for Certificate of Citizenship in Behalf of an Adopted Child $80 $125 Self-explanatory
While we believe that a majority of the employment based applicant users of these services would probably not have a major problem in paying for quality services, the issue with the INS is that while the fees will likely
increase, the service afforded to the end users has not dramatically increased in the past. For example, the majority of the funds collected by the INS under the penalty fee provision has resulted in INS enforcement on
the borders increasing, while the applicants for adjudications of petitions have not enjoyed the benefit of the value of the additional fees paid. We will need to wait and see if the fee increases will reduce processing times
and provide the customer friendly support that INS states it intends to implement.