Effective November 23, 2010, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has increased government filing fees in all benefit categories. DHS proposed an increase in fees on June 11, 2010, and the final rule was published in the Federal Register today, September 24, 2010. The final rule increases most immigration benefit fees by a weighted average of 10 percent. DHS has also add three new fee categories for Regional Center Designation under the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, Civil Surgeon Designation, and DHS Processing of Immigrant Visa requests. Also affected, the Premium Processing fees will increase by the “percentage increase in inflation according to the Consumer Price Index – Urban Consumers (CPI-U) published as of July 2010.”
Under the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program created in 1992, business entities may apply to coordinate a “Regional Center” within a geographic area as an option for immigrants who qualify for EB-5 Investor Visas. The new fee schedule, effective November 23, 2010, charges business entities who apply for Regional Center Designation a fee of $6,230.
For select applications or petitions and under certain circumstances, a petitioner or applicant may request and pay an additional fee for premium processing services. An accepted premium processing requests obligates USCIS to respond to the designated application or petition within 15 calendar days, essentially speeding up the process. The interim rule for premium processing was published 2000. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Fee Schedule published September 24, 2010, finalizes the interim rule which implemented premium processing and raises the benefit fee from $1000 to $1225. Currently premium processing is available for the additional fee when filing I-129 Petitions for Nonimmigrant Workers (H-1B, L-1, O, P, Q & R status), as well as I-140 Immigrant Petitions for Workers under limited circumstances (Employment Based Permanent Residence). Commenters asked if DHS would consider expanding premium processing to other petitions and/or applications. DHS responded in the final rule that it would begin analyzing costs and reviewing other applications and petitions which may qualify for premium processing in the future.
The fee increase on November 23, 2010, will change the majority of filing fees for immigration benefits, including business immigration benefits. The filing fee for Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Workers will increase from $320 to $325. For Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker the fee changes from $475 to $580. The filing fee for I-485 Application to Adjust Status, whether family or employment based, will increase from a total of $1010 to $1070 (the increased base fee is $985, plus an increased biometrics fee of $85). Not all fees were increased, some remain the same, such as the base fee for Form N-400 Application for Naturalization ($595). Other fees increased, such as the fee for Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, used often to extend or change status of nonimmigrant dependents, decreased from $300 to $290.
The new fees must be included with all applications and/or petitions filed, postmarked, or delivered to USCIS on or after November 23, 2010.
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