04 February 2004

Fee Increase Proposed for Immigration Applications

Higher security levels increase costs, immigration agency says

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is proposing a fee increase for immigration applications in order to cover higher costs created by the demands for greater security since the September 2001 terrorist attacks. In a press release issued February 3, USCIS said the proposal would add an average of $55 to the cost of immigration applications.

The rule change, still subject to review and revision, is part of a larger process of reform and reorganization in the nation's immigration system, according to CIS Director Eduardo Aguirre. U.S. law requires that application fees, rather than tax dollars, cover the cost of providing immigration services.

Following is the text of the CIS press release:

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U.S. Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
February 3, 2004


Washington, D.C.- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced in the Federal Register a proposed adjustment to the fee structure for immigration benefits. The revised fees would add an average of $55 to the current cost of immigration applications, and increase the biometrics fee by $20 for certain applications.

"America's immigration system is under reform. This adjustment is necessary to deliver a more compassionate, effective and secure system, said USCIS Director Eduardo Aguirre. "Without it, the applications backlog is certain to grow, processing times will lengthen and service will deteriorate."

Federal guidelines require that USCIS collect fees, rather than using tax dollars, to recover the full costs associated with providing immigration services, and conduct a review every two years to ensure that adequate revenue is received. The proposed adjustment will recover costs associated with comprehensive security enhancements instituted after September 11, 2001, and enhance customer service by contributing to improved application processing times.

In its first year, USCIS prioritized the integrity of the legal immigration system, conducting 35 million national security checks to make certain that the right applicant receives the right benefit in the right amount of time, and to prevent the wrong applicant from accessing our benefits. In the area of customer service, USCIS eliminated the lines at many of its highest volume offices, introduced on-line options for application filing and case status updates, and established a bilingual, toll-free customer help-line.

The proposed rule provides a 30-day public comment period. After receipt and analysis of comments, USCIS will publish a final rule in the Federal Register, announcing a modified fee structure. Those fees will go into effect shortly thereafter, consistent with established regulatory policies.

Written comment should be submitted to the Regulations and Forms Services Division, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, 425 I Street NW, Room 4034, Washington, D.C., 20536. Please reference USCIS No. 2233-02 on your correspondence. Comments will also be accepted electronically at: rfs.regs@dhs.gov. When submitting comments electronically, please include USCIS No. 2233-02 in the subject box. The proposed rule does not and cannot by itself raise fees. It is only the beginning of the regulatory process through which an agency announces the intention to change regulations.


On March 1, 2003, U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services became one of three legacy INS components to join the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. USCIS is charged with fundamentally transforming and improving the delivery of immigration and citizenship services, while enhancing the integrity of our nation's security. www.uscis.gov

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(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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