Dallas, TX (Law Firm Newswire) December 20, 2012 – There will be a new fee required for green cards as of early next year.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS, has advised that a new fee for issuance of a green card to new immigrants will go into effect February 1, 2013. The fee is designed to defray the cost of government processing the issuance of green cards to persons issued immigrant visas abroad upon their admission to the U.S.
USCIS announced the fee in its final rule published on September 24, 2010. The $165.00 fee is in addition to the immigrant visa fee applicants must also pay to the Department of State (DOS), for its processing of their immigrant visa applications, in addition to other government filing fees.
According to USCIS, an immigrant must pay this fee after they have been issued an immigrant visa and packet, but before leaving for the U.S. USCIS accepts online payments on its website, http://www.uscis.gov. Failure to pay the required amount results in the immigrant not receiving a green card, although the immigrant is to be admitted to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident, but without proof of that status beyond the admission endorsement stamp usually placed near the immigrant visa in the immigrant’s passport, valid for status and employment authorization for one year.
“At the heart of this additional fee is USCIS interpretation of the statutory requirement that they collect fees to cover the costs of deciding immigrant benefits cases, including naturalization cases, and while also covering the cost of deciding other cases without charge, such as asylum filings and other applicants,” says Dallas immigration attorney Stewart Rabinowitz of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. “While this new fee is not an extraordinary fee alone, at some point, immigrants feel that they pay inefficient government agencies to collect a fee for nearly every little portion of the immigration process,” added Rabinowitz.
Perhaps such feelings are justified. There is controversy as to what constitutes covered activities in the user fee for service set up by Congress. Should immigrants who apply for benefits be charged only for the adjudicative activities that directly relate to their specific cases? Or, as USCIS alleges, should covered activities also include government investments in improved service and technology? USCIS acknowledges that the law does not prevent it from using general appropriations to subsidize fee receipts to fund its operations, and recognizes that Congress has not specified what costs are to be included.
“The issue is important,” indicated Rabinowitz, “because filing fees are already high. Typical immigration filing fees for family-based immigration approach $1,000.00 or more per adult, and it remains an open question whether government fees will become beyond the reach of those immigrants who want to do everything correctly and come to the U.S. legally.”
Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C.
14901 Quorum Drive, Suite 580
Dallas, Texas 75254