Articles Posted in Filing Fees

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On November 14, 2019, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register to increase immigration fees for certain petitions. After publication, the proposal will be open for a 30-day comment period. After that point the agency will review public comments and draft the final rule. At this time there is no definitive date set out in the proposed rule for enforcement of these fees. Therefore, readers should note that these fee increases will likely not take effect until well into Fiscal Year 2020.

What does the rule propose?

The rule proposes the following fee increases by immigration benefit:

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Moreover, DHS proposes that fees for the following types of petitions be limited to a 5 percent increase above current fees:

  • Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.
  • Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er) or Special Immigrant.
  • Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative
  • Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition
  • Form I-600A/I-600, Supplement 3, Request for Action on Approved Form I-600A/I600.42
  • Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative.
  • Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country.
  • Form I-800A, Supplement 3, Request for Action on Approved Form I-800A

Changes to Fee Waiver Requests

DHS further proposes to limit fee waivers grants to individuals who have an annual household income of less than 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guideline as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

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It is that time of the week again! In this post, we bring you the latest immigration news from USCIS.

Texas Service Center Will Begin Processing Certain Cap-Exempt H-1B Petitions

On May 20, 2019, USCIS announced that the Texas Service Center will begin processing certain cap-exempt H-1B petitions filed on Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker.

What types of petitions may be processed by the TSC?

Cap-exempt petitions requesting:

  • A change in previously approved employment;
  • A change of employer;
  • Concurrent employment;
  • Amendments;
  • A continuation of previously approved employment without change with the same employer;
  • A change of status to H-1B; or Notification to a U.S. Consulate or inspection facility (port of entry or pre-flight inspection).

Applicants must continue to refer to the direct filing address chart to determine where the I-129 Form should be filed. The workload for cap-exempt petitions will be distributed between the Texas Service Center, California Service Center, Vermont Service Center, and Nebraska Service Center to increase efficiency and prevent processing delays.

If your case is transferred, you will receive a transfer notice in the mail.

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In an effort to modernize and streamline the application process, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has finally announced that it will begin to accept payment via credit card for all 41 fee-based forms. Previously, applicants were required to make filing fee payments by personal check or money order for most fee-based forms. Now applicants will be able to use their credit cards to pay their filing fees using Form G-1450 Authorization for Credit Card Transaction.Accepted credit cards include Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover cards.  Applicants for naturalization and those renewing or replacing their Green Cards can pay via credit card using the e-file system.

Applicants filing any of the following forms with a USCIS Lockbox facility may now utilize the credit card payment option. Please remember to include Form G-1450 along with your application when filing by mail:

*Most frequently used forms appear in bold.

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In this post, we will discuss the limited circumstances in which applicants may request a fee exemption for Form I-765 filed in connection with a renewal request for consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

In most cases the filing fee to request a renewal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals cannot be waived, but fee exemptions are available in the following limited circumstances:

  • Applicants under 18 years of age who are homeless, in foster care, or otherwise lack parental or other familial support, with income that is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level may seek a fee exemption
  • Applicants who cannot care for themselves because of a serious chronic disability with an income that is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level may claim a fee exemption
  • Applicants, who at the time of their request, have accumulated $10,000 or more in debt in the past 12 months, as the result of unreimbursed medical expenses for themselves or family members, receiving an income that is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level may claim an exemption of the filing fee

To determine whether your income is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level please reference the chart below:

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In order to be considered for a fee exemption, applicants must submit a letter and supporting documentation demonstrating that they fall into one of the above-mentioned categories. Applicants must first file a request for a fee exemption and receive an approved fee exemption, before filing a request for consideration of deferred action on Form I-821D.  Applicants may not submit Forms I-821D, I-765, and I-765WS without a record that a fee exemption has been approved.

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Now is the time to begin preparing for the upcoming H-1B visa lottery. USCIS will begin to accept H-1B cap-subject petitions for fiscal year 2019 beginning Monday, April 2, 2018. Please note: employers cannot file an H-1B petition for an employee more than 6 months before the employee’s intended start date. If accepted, H-1B visa workers can begin employment by October 1st. The H-1B visa is issued for up to three years but may be extended for another three years.

By law, a congressionally mandated cap exists which limits the issuance of H-1B visas to 65,000 per year. That is why the H-1B visa is commonly referred to as a ‘lottery’ visa.

Individuals (such as F-1 students) who hold advanced degrees (U.S. master’s or higher) are exempted from the 65,000 visa cap. Such applicant’s must demonstrate that they have obtained an American master’s degree or higher to be exempted from the cap, however only the first 20,000 petitions received by USCIS will benefit from this cap exemption. Initial H-1B petitions that are received by USCIS after that limit will count towards the regular 65,000 cap.

In order to qualify for an H-1B visa:

  • a foreign worker must possess both a theoretical or practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge;
  • an employer-employee relationship must exist. Only a U.S. employer can petition the entry of a foreign employee by filing USCIS Form I-129 Petition for Non-immigrant Worker. An employer-employee relationship exists if the U.S. employer has the right to hire, pay, fire, supervise or control the work of the employee;
  • the foreign worker must possess a bachelor’s degree, its foreign equivalent, or relevant work experience. If the foreign worker does not have formal education, but has at least 12 years of relevant work experience related to the specialty occupation, they may still qualify for an H-1B visa;
  • the foreign worker must be employed in a specialty occupation related to their field of study. A specialty occupation is an occupation that requires a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent;
  • the foreign worker must be paid at least the prevailing wage for the specialty occupation in the area of intended employment;

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26417675520_2b93773995_zLast week, we reported that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had updated a large number of forms that were to be used immediately from December 23, 2016 forward. USCIS published the updated versions of the forms following the implementation of a new fee schedule affecting certain immigration and naturalization petitions which went into effect on December 23, 2016. USCIS did not notify the public prior to the publication of the new form editions, and no alerts were sent out to interested parties regarding compliance with the new form editions. At the time the new form editions were released, the USCIS website indicated that, apart from the form I-129, older versions of the affected forms would not be accepted.

Today, December 29, 2016, USCIS announced that previous editions of affected forms will continue to be accepted by USCIS until February 21, 2017, except for the N-400 Application for Naturalization. N-400 Application for Naturalization must be filed with the 12/23/16 edition date. No prior editions of form N-400 will be accepted by USCIS. Despite this update, please remember that the new fee schedule will continue to be enforced. Forms filed with previous editions must include the new fees. New form editions will contain an edition date of 12/23/16. Updated forms can be found at uscis.gov/forms. The complete fee schedule can be found at uscis.gov/forms/our-fees.

USCIS has released new form editions of the following forms: I-90, I-102, I-129, I-129CW, I-129F, I-130, I-131, I-131A, I-140, I-191, I-192, I-212, I-290B, I-360, I-485, I-485 Supplement A, I-525, I-539, I-600, I-600A, I-601, I-601A, I-612, I-690, I-694, I-698, I-751, I-765, I-800, I-800A, I-817, I-824, I-910, I-924, I-924A, I-929, I-942, I-942P, N-300, N-336, N-400, N-470, N-600, and N-600K.

UPDATE: Today, December 29, 2016, USCIS announced that previous editions of affected forms will continue to be accepted by USCIS until February 21, 2017, except for the N-400 Application for Naturalization. N-400 Application for Naturalization must be filed with the 12/23/16 edition date. No prior editions of form N-400 will be accepted by USCIS. Please remember that the new fee schedule will continue to be enforced. New form editions will contain an edition date of 12/23/16. Updated forms can be found at uscis.gov/forms. The complete fee schedule can be found at uscis.gov/forms/our-fees.

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It is our pleasure to bring you the latest immigration news.

Adjudication of DACA-based Advance Parole

In response to the uncertain political climate, USCIS has responded to rumors that USCIS has suspended the processing of DACA-based advance parole documents. USCIS has confirmed that they have NOT suspended processing of DACA-based advance parole applications, and will continue to adjudicate these applications as normal. In addition, USCIS released a statement notifying the public that they will continue to process all applications, petitions, and requests consistent with current immigration laws, regulations and policies. We have also learned that USCIS has distributed guidelines to USCIS Field Offices across the United States providing officers with a clear framework regarding the issuance of emergency advance parole documents for DACA applicants. Please be aware that if you are in the process of applying for a DACA-based advance parole document, the advance parole document contains an important disclaimer which states that an advance parole document does not guarantee any person admission to the United States. Customs and Border Patrol may use their discretion in deciding whether or not to admit a person with an advance parole document into the United States. DHS may also revoke or terminate an advance parole document at any time.

Donald Trump on Visa Program Abuses

On November 21, 2016 the President-elect, Donald Trump, released an update on the Presidential Transition, outlining some of his policy plans for his first 100 days in office, including his day one executive actions. Donald Trump announced that he during his first day in office he plans to direct the Department of labor to investigate all abuses of visa programs that undercut the American worker. So far, it is unclear what position he will take on nonimmigrant worker programs.

Increase in Filing Fees

On December 23, 2016 USCIS will increase filing fees for certain immigrant and nonimmigrant petitions processed by the service. In order to avoid these fee increases, USCIS must receive your application before this date. The petitions that will be most heavily impacted by the fee increases include Form I-924 for Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, Form I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, the N-400 application for citizenship, I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant workers, the I-485 Adjustment of Status Application, the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, the I-129F petition for alien fiancé, and the I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Permanent Residence. Fee waivers are available for select family based petitions. For a complete list of the fee schedule please click here.

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In this post we bring you your daily dose of immigration updates. For more information on the immigration services we provide please visit our website. For a free first legal consultation please contact our office. It is our pleasure to accompany you on your immigration journey.

USCIS extends TPS Designation for Nepal for 18 months

The Secretary of Homeland Security recently announced that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible nationals of Nepal will be extended for an additional 18 months, beginning December 25, 2016 through June 24, 2018. Eligible TPS applicants must either be foreign nationals of Nepal or habitually resided in Nepal. DHS will be extending current TPS Nepal Employment Authorization Cards (EADs) with a December 24, 2016 expiration date for an additional 6 months, valid through June 24, 2017.

For more information regarding TPS for Nepal please click here. For information about the TPS program please click here. Employers interested in verifying or reverifying the employment eligibility of employees who are TPS beneficiaries, may click here for more information.

EADs Extended 6 Months for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone TPS Beneficiaries

Current Beneficiaries of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for the designations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have had their TPS status extended for a period of 6 months, to expire on May 21, 2017. The Department of Homeland Security authorized this temporary extension to allow beneficiaries to make an orderly transition out of the United States, before termination of their TPS status on May 21, 2017. Current beneficiaries of the TPS program from these designations will automatically retain their TPS status until this date, and the validity of their current Employment Authorization Cards (EADs) will be extended through May 20, 2017.

Click here for more information about the 6-month extension of orderly transition before termination of TPS designations for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. For general information about the TPS program please click here.

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Today, October 24, 2016 the Department of Homeland Security published the final rule increasing fees for certain immigration and naturalization petitions processed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Overall the Department of Homeland Security increased filing fees for certain petitions by an average of 21 percent. The new fees will be enforced by USCIS beginning December 23, 2016. The fee schedule has been adjusted following the agency’s decision to conduct a comprehensive review of filing fees for fiscal year 2016/2017. USCIS determined that an adjustment in the filing fees would be necessary in order for USCIS to recover costs for services expended and maintain adequate service. The proposed fee schedule was first published on May 4, 2016. The final rule clarifies that all persons applying for immigration benefits may be required to appear for biometrics services or an interview, and thus must pay the biometrics services fee accordingly.

EB-5 Investor Visa Program

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program will be most heavily impacted by the new fee schedule. The new filing fee for Form I-924, Application for Regional Center under the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, will increase by a rate of 186% requiring Regional Centers seeking designation under the program, to pay a filing fee of $17,795 instead of the current rate of $6,230. Regional Centers will be required to pay a $3,035 annual fee to certify their continued eligibility for the designation.

The filing fee for the I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, an application associated with the EB-5 visa program, will increase to $3,675, a 145% increase up from the current rate of $1,500. The filing fee for an investor’s petition to remove conditions on residence remains unchanged.

Naturalization

USCIS has established a three-tiered fee schedule for naturalization applicants filing Form N-400 Application for Naturalization. First, the fee schedule includes a standard filing fee for most applicants, from a rate of $595 to $640. Second, DHS has established a reduced fee of $320 for naturalization applicants whose household income is greater than 150% but less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Third, there will be no filing fee for naturalization applicants who are members of the military, applicants with approved fee waivers, and others who may qualify for a fee waiver according to sections 328 or 329 of the Immigration and nationality Act (INA).

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