Applying for immigration benefits with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is about to get more expensive. Starting November 23, 2010, fees for nearly all types of applications and petitions with USCIS will increase by an average of 10% across the board. Coupled with a 66% increase in 2007, immigration service users, especially families applying for their green cards, will feel the hit.
The most relevant and significant increases include: an I-130 petition for an immigrant relative, which will cost $420 (up $65); an I-140 petition for an immigrant worker, $580 (up $105); and an I-485 application to adjust status, $1,070 with biometrics (up $60). The premium processing fee - available for certain nonimmigrant and immigrant visa petitions and guaranteeing a decision in 15 days - will increase to $1,225, a 25% increase from the current cost of $1,000. Replacing a lost green card will cost $365 (up $75). Another hefty increase is for a petition to remove conditions by an EB-5 immigrant-entrepreneur (I-829): $3,750, up from the current cost of $2,850. There is at least one key application only slightly affected: N-400 applications for naturalization (N-400s) remain unchanged at $595 (although there is an increase in biometrics, which will mean an increase of $5).
USCIS asserts that the increase is necessary to recoup its operating costs of administering the nation's immigration laws and processing applications for benefits. As a fee-based agency with about 90% of its budget coming from fees, USCIS is required by law to review its fee structure every several years. However, unlike the 2007 fee increase, this increase does not come with a promise to reduce government processing times.