Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘US Visa Costs’

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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12th June 2010

In a recent transcript from a news conference held by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) it was announced that USCIS may be increasing many of the fees associated with US Immigration petitions. The following is a direct quote from the aforementioned news conference transcript:

While we received appropriations from Congress, budget cuts of approximately $160 million have not bridged the remaining gap between costs and anticipated revenue. A fee adjustment, as detailed in the proposed rule, is therefore necessary to address that gap.

Although few seem to doubt the fact that USCIS has experienced a revenue shortfall, many seem to be perturbed by the announcement of fee increases. The following is quoted from the AILA Leadership blog:

Yesterday, due to lower than projected fee revenues, USCIS proposed a fee increase that will amount to an average increase of  10% across the board.  USCIS will issue the formal proposal on Friday and there will be a 45 day comment period.  This, in combination with the 66% fee increase that was implemented in 2007, constitutes a tremendous hit in the pocketbook for a variety of users of immigration services. For example, an I-130 petition for an alien relative will jump from $355 to $420, under this proposal, thus impacting those who want to be reunited with family members.  An I-131 application for a travel document goes up by $55, and an application for an employment authorization document increases by $40.  Adjustment of status fees will increase by $55.  Businesses will also bear some of the brunt, with I-140 petitions for immigrant workers increasing over $100, premium processing going up by $225 and a brand new fee of $6,230 to establish a Regional Center under the EB-5 program. And –perhaps the coup de grace—fees for filing I-290 Notices of Appeal will increase from $585 to $630, a $45 dollar increase that will allow us to continue to file appeals that take over 2 years to adjudicate and generally conclude with either a rubber stamping of the original decision, or as in a handful of recent AAO decisions, a tortured legal analysis resulting in increasingly restrictive interpretations of the law.

The tone of the above quote leaves some readers feeling as though the author is rather upset about the recently proposed fee increase. The following passages from the aforementioned post on the AILA Leadership blog leaves little to the imagination regarding some practitioners feelings with regard to the proposed fee increases:

Why do these fee increases feel like a punch in the stomach to immigration practitioners?  Because they come at a time when the quality of decision-making and the ability to correct even the simplest errors or address basic problems with USCIS are at an all-time low. A small sampling of the problems we have all experienced with alarming increased frequency over the past few years…Application of new extra-regulatory standards in case adjudication…Adjudication of issues not within the province of USCIS…A “pick and choose” attitude with respect to previously issued long-standing agency guidance…Lack of accessibility of agency officials and decision-makers…Lack of predictability in decision-making…Lack of respect for the role of counsel in various proceedings: Examples:  Practitioners report that they are sometimes not copied on RFE’s, and that district offices from time to time have barred attorneys from accompanying their clients to adjustment interviews.

Although USCIS adjudicates cases on an individual basis and no single practitioner can make a generalized statement about USCIS adjudication generally, there appears to be an increasingly common feeling among immigration practitioners that agencies associated with Immigration adjudication are becoming rather unpredictable.

Also of possible interest to those seeking certain family based visas such as the K1 visa and the K3 Visa is the fact that the US Department of State has recently raised the fees associated with such applications when adjudicated by US Consulates abroad. The previous fee for K visa applications was $131, but under the newly promulgated rules the K visa application fee has been raised to $350. Those seeking K3 visas are unlikely to be adversely impacted by the recent fee increase as K3 visa applications are currently being “administratively closed,” in many cases, by the National Visa Center. That said, those seeking a K1 Fiance Visa will likely be required to pay the increased fee in order to have their K1 visa application adjudicated.

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