Friday, June 25, 2010

American Immigration - what impact of increased processing fees?

The following article by analyzes the rising costs of US Immigration petitions and applications and how these increased fees may impact those who wish to bring a foreign loved one to the United States of America.

Recently enacted rules by the American State Department have resulted in increased fees for those applying for K-1 and K-3 visas, and their derivative counterparts, abroad. In the recent past, the application fee for K category visas was $131 per applicant. Under the recently promulgated rules, K visa applicants must pay 350 USD when applying for a K1, K2, K3, or K4 visa at a Consulate abroad. The apparent reason for the fee increase is due to the fact that the State Department seems to feel that more resources are necessary to effectively process certain non-immigrant visa applications. Many are of the opinion that increased fees will also be used to assist in the Department of State's ongoing efforts to uncover fraud in the American Immigration process.

Even though the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security (the agency which has jurisdiction over the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service commonly referred to by the acronym USCIS) are two separate government agencies they both usually have a role in the American Immigration process. For instance, in K-1 fiance visa cases, USCIS is tasked with the adjudication of the initial K1 visa petition. After USCIS approval, the K-1 visa petition is sent to the National Visa Center (under the jurisdiction of the American State Department) where the case is forwarded to the Embassy or Consulate with proper jurisdiction. After the arrival of the K1 case file at an American Consulate overseas, the proposed beneficiary of the K-1 visa must submit a K-1 visa application and be subjected to a K-1 visa interview. Should the application receive approval, the K-1 visa holder must then travel to the United States within 180 days and request admission at the Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP, also under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security) at an American port of entry.

Upon arrival in the United States and after marriage to the petitioner, the K-1 visa holder will have Ninety (90) days in which to apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence.

The K1 visa process is complicated and rather time consuming. There are some who hope that an increase in petition and application fees will result in a faster and more efficient process. However, each American Immigration case is different and it is difficult to foresee all possibilities in each and every Immigration petition and/or application.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will raise fees an average 10% to help close a projected $200-million budget deficit. The cost of citizenship applications will not increase.

The cost of obtaining a green card, business visa and other US immigration benefits will increase an average 10% under a proposal announced Wednesday by federal immigration officials.

But in a move hailed by immigrant advocates, officials decided not to propose fee hikes for US citizenship applications, one of the largest and most politically popular categories of immigration benefits.

Citizenship fees were increased by nearly 70% to $675 in 2007, which immigrant advocates say contributed to a sharp drop in the number of citizenship applications over the last two years.

See also:

US Green cards face fee hikes

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