Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘USCIS Costs’

21st July 2010

In a recent press release from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) it was announced that a fee waiver form has been proposed in an effort to streamline the process whereby indigent aliens in the USA apply for relief from Immigration fees. To quote the announcement, as promulgated by USCIS and distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has proposed for the first time a standardized fee waiver form in an effort to provide relief for financially disadvantaged individuals seeking immigration benefits…

Apparently, the current version of the fee waiver form is the product of time, research, and study as USCIS has attempted to provide relief to those who cannot pay the government processing fees while still maintaining the integrity of the overall system. To quote the aforementioned announcement further:

The proposed fee waiver form is the product of extensive collaboration with the public. In meetings with stakeholders, USCIS heard concerns that the absence of a standardized fee waiver form led to confusion about the criteria that had to be met as well as the adjudication standards. USCIS worked with stakeholders in developing the fee waiver form that is now posted for comment. “Our goal is to bring clarity and consistency to our processes,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “We are doing so now in the critical area of providing the financially disadvantaged with access to immigration benefits.”

Mayorkas further stated that the method by which the proposed fee waiver form was devised – through extensive collaboration with the public – will be a hallmark of his approach to improving agency processes. Currently, applicants requesting a fee waiver must do so by submitting an affidavit or unsworn declaration requesting a fee waiver and stating the reasons why he/she is unable to pay the filing fee. The new proposed fee waiver form is designed to verify that an applicant for an immigration benefit is unable to pay the fee for the benefit sought. The proposed form provides clear criteria and an efficient way to collect and process the information.

It is admirable to see USCIS taking an active interest in providing relief to those customers who are truly in need. That said, it remains to be seen how this proposal will be received particularly in light of the fact that USCIS has recently announced shortfalls in its budget. Some feel that providing this type of relief runs counter to the notion of USCIS as a self-funded agency. In any case, this author hopes to see this proposal passed if it increases the probability of providing much needed assistance to those wishing to travel to, or remain in, the United States of America for bona fide reasons.

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13th June 2010

With the recently announced fee increases associated with K visa applications filed overseas, there are many who feel that serious thought should be given to the type of visa a couple should petition to obtain. In the past, many couples who were thinking of marriage opted to apply for a US fiance visa, also referred to as a K1 visa. That being said, it was recently announced that the application fee for all K visas sought overseas would be increased from $131 to $350. Apparently, the resources accrued are to be used in furtherance of fraud prevention measures as well as implementation of measures meant to streamline the overall visa process. As the fee increase was only recently announced, it remains to be seen how newly acquired fees will be used on the Consular level. With that in mind, it has also been recently announced that USCIS may be raising fees for Immigrant visa petitions. For those who are unfamiliar with this blog, it should be noted that for purposes of traveling to the USA, the K1 visa and the K3 Visa are considered to be immigrant visas even though they do not automatically confer lawful permanent residence to the bearer upon entry in the USA.

Those seeking a US visa would be prudent to seriously consider their options because the costs associated with the process of applying for and obtaining a CR1 visa or an IR1 visa may be lower in some cases when compared to the costs associated with the K1 visa process. When viewed from a long term perspective the CR1 visa, although more time consuming to obtain, confers lawful permanent residence to the bearer upon entry and thereby negates the necessity of adjustment of status which is necessary for those who travel to the US on a K1 visa with the intent to marry the Petitioner and remain in the USA permanently.

In most cases, those wishing to bring a spouse to the USA are wise to bear in mind the fact that K3 visa applications, once a popular travel document for bi-national married couples, are now being administratively closed by the National Visa Center if the underlying I-130 is approved prior to, or at the same time as, the I-129f application. This has lead to many instances of spouses being required by circumstance to process a CR1 or IR1 visa rather than a K3 visa because the NVC simply will not process the K3 application.

For those interested in further information about US Immigration please see: American Visa Thailand.

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