Immigration fees would increase by an average of 10% under new proposal
Some of the fee increases would include applications to replace permanent resident cards, which would increase from $290 to $365; applications for naturalization certificates, which would jump from $460 to $600; and applications for status as a temporary resident, which would rise from $710 to $1,130.
But the proposal would not increase fees for citizenship applications, one of the largest and most politically popular benefits. Those fees were hiked by 70% to $675 in 2007, an increase that immigrant-rights groups blamed for putting citizenship out of reach for the poor.
Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the proposed fee increases were needed to close a projected $200-million deficit for 2010-11. Budget cuts of $160 million were not enough to offset the gap between the agency's projected $2.1 billion in revenue and $2.3 billion in costs, he said in a national teleconference.
Fees for citizenship will not be raised "given the unique nature of this benefit to the individual applicant, the significant public benefit to the nation and the nation's proud tradition of welcoming new citizens," he said in a statement.
The proposal came after a lengthy fee review and meetings with community members in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and elsewhere.
Immigrant advocates hailed the decision not to raise citizenship fees.
"It's very clear the Obama administration has heard the concern of the immigrant community about keeping citizenship affordable," said Fred Tsao of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
Three new fees are proposed to cover the processing costs of visas for immigrants, investors and civil surgeons.
Under the proposed changes, some fees would actually decrease. For example, applications to adjust status from temporary to permanent resident would drop from $1,370 to $1,070, and applications for family unity benefits would go from $440 to $435.
Mayorkas urged the public to weigh in on the proposal at www.regulations.gov. The 45-day public comment period runs from Friday to July 26.
-- Teresa Watanabe