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USCIS Sets Final Fee Schedule for the Processing of Immigration Benefit Applications and Petitions
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Following a complete review of more than 3,900 public comments, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a final fee structure that includes benefits for some families with children and also expands the availability of fee waivers and exemptions.

The rule sets fees for the processing of immigration benefit applications and petitions and includes some substantive revisions from the proposal published in February of this year while providing necessary funding for the agency to continue strengthening the security and integrity of the immigration system, improving customer service, and modernizing business operations for the 21st century.

“We proposed our new fee structure with the expectation of ongoing discussions with the public on this important issue,” said USCIS Director Emilio Gonzalez. “The volume and value of the comments we received has provided an opportunity to fine-tune our final fee structure that we believe is both fair to our customers and vital to our Nation as we continue to build a secure and efficient national immigration service.”

The final rule’s key revisions include a 25 percent reduction to the proposed filing fee for Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status to Permanent Resident) for children 14 years old or younger, translating to a $360 decrease from what was proposed for a family of two adults and two children filing together. The final rule will also allow a one-time free extension of approved orphan petitions for prospective adoptive parents, and expands the availability of fee waivers for some adjustment of status cases that arise from asylum or other humanitarian categories, and certain juvenile immigrants. USCIS will also exempt “Special Immigrant – Juveniles” from the $375 filing fee for Form I-360 (Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant). Finally, USCIS will be able to waive the $80 biometric fee, in addition to the application/petition fee, on an individual basis.

The final rule retains the fee exemption for T visas (Victims of Human Trafficking) and self-petitioners seeking immigrant classification under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for humanitarian reasons, as well as an exemption for all refugee and asylum applicants. The final rule also allows USCIS to waive the filing fee for U.S. citizens seeking immigrant status for their alien spouses (K-3 visas) and will continue to waive fees for members of the U.S. Armed Forces applying for naturalization.

USCIS anticipates that the revenue from the new fee structure will lead to a 20 percent reduction in average application processing times by the end of fiscal year 2009, and will cut processing times by the end of fiscal year 2008 for four key application types: the I-90 (Renew / Replace Permanent Resident Card), I-140 (Immigration Petition for Alien Worker), the I-485, and the N-400 (Naturalization). These four application types represent one-third of all applications filed.

The new fee structure is effective on July 30, 2007, and applications or petitions postmarked or otherwise filed on or after that date must include the new fee.

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