Effective June 4, nonimmigrant visa and border crossing card application processing fees are now $140 for most non-petition-based nonimmigrant visas (machine-readable visas or MRVs) and $14 for Border Crossing Cards (BCCs). The Department of State also established a new, higher fee for certain categories of petition-based nonimmigrant visas and treaty trader and investor visas (all of which are also MRVs): H, L, O, P, Q, and R nonimmigrant visa fees are now $150; E visas, $390; and K visas, $350.
In early June, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced its plans to increase fees that will amount to an average increase of about 10% across the board, citing lower than projected fee revenues for 2010-2011. USCIS issued its formal proposal on June 11 with a 45-day period during which the public can comment.
While most of the proposed fee increases for individual petitions and application are not shocking in and of themselves, when combined with the 66% fee increase that was implemented just three years ago, the fee increase constitutes a hefty hit for a variety of immigration service users. Here are some examples of the proposed fees: an I-130 petition for an alien relative will increase from $355 to $420; an I-140 petition for an immigrant worker will increase from $475 to $580, and an I-485 application to adjust status will increase to $1,070 (with biometrics). A significant increase is proposed for premium processing, currently $1,000; it will cost, if adopted, $1,225. Fees for administrative appeals will increase $45, from $585 to $630.
When announcing the proposals, USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas stated that USCIS is closely reviewing the adjudicatory process to improve consistency and quality, but immigration practitioners and their clients are not holding their breath. In recent years, the quality of USCIS decision-making and the agency’s ability to correct even minor errors or address fundamental, systemic problems are at an all time low. As one colleague remarked, “USCIS is going to have to dig deep, confront some difficult structural issues, and implement some massive, culture-changing fixes if the agency wants its products and services to be worthy of their new price tag.” We can’t agree more.