Nearly 7,000 comments were submitted in response to a proposed increase in U.S. visa fees, with the majority voicing fierce opposition and concerns.
Last week, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ended public comment for a proposed fee increase unveiled by the Biden administration in January. The deadline for public comment was initially set for March 6, but was extended another week until March 13 due to a technical issue.
Under the proposal, application fees for most categories of immigration to the United States would increase. Some fees, like those for employment-based visas and family-based immigrant applications, will face dramatic increases.
Application fees for U.S. citizens and permanent residents hoping to sponsor family members for permanent residency — known as a green card — would increase by 33% to $710, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Fees for marriage-based green card applications could double from $1,760 to over $3,640, USCIS citing the higher cost of proving a valid family relationship exists. Requests from U.S. citizens seeking to bring their fiancés to the U.S. would increase by 35%, from $535 to $720.
Immigration officials say fee increases are necessary to hire staff, reduce pending cases backlog
Federal immigration officials say the fee increases for certain petitions are necessary to recover operational costs, speed up application reviews, hire more staff, and reduce the agency’s backlog of pending cases. In 2020, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic led to a dramatic reduction in new applications, resulting in a temporary drop in revenue by 40%, according to USCIS.
About 96% of USCIS funding comes from filing fees, rather than congressional funds, to administer the nation’s legal immigration system.
The proposed changes will not take effect until a final rule is published. It remains to be seen whether the agency will move forward with the fee increases it proposed in January, or if it will enact a modified version based on feedback from the public.
Families stuck in the visa process, however, criticized the government for proposing additional costly fees to recoup costs before addressing cases languishing in red tape.
Families must wait years while immigration issues resolve
Felesia Wade, a Clark County School District special education teachers assistant in Nevada, booked an appointment for an immigration clinic hosted by Democrat Rep. Steven Horsford on Friday to resolve an issue with her husband’s green card application. He has had to remain in Kenya for nearly two years while his case is resolved.
“How are you going to raise fees for a service that you’re not even providing?” Wade said.
Wade said she’s thankful she has already paid her husband’s application fees, adding that any additional cost would be a struggle to pay. The immigration process itself is costly, said Wade, but being separated from family incurs other costs as well.
“I teach all day and when school gets out, I turn on my app so I can do Uber so I can pay for a flight to go over there. But right now, it doesn’t even look like I’ll be able to see him this year,” Wade said through tears.
“When I inquired on the internet, you know, you get the automated message saying that they’re behind due to COVID, but we’re in 2023 now,” Wade said. “We’re still just waiting in limbo.”
In public comments filed with the USCIS, immigration advocates heavily criticized increasing fees for standard filings, especially fees affecting children.
Under the proposal, anyone applying for a change of immigration status from within the U.S. would have to pay more than double the cost, a potentially devastating financial impact on low-income applicants who lack the ability to pay the new fees.
Filing fees for children under 14 years old who are adjusting their status with a parent are currently reduced, but under the new proposal, that fee would also increase by $790, mirroring the cost of an adult application.
For an immigrant family of four, the costs of adjusting their status to become permanent residents could exceed $10,000 when adding up the total cost of the new fees proposal, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Horsford said his clinic Friday was an opportunity to expedite existing immigration cases, but also a chance to meet with Nevadans about new cases before fee increases are implemented.
“The fees create additional burdens and barriers for many of the working-class families that are already struggling to make ends meet, so while I strongly support the work of USCIS to help move these cases along in a positive manner, I don’t believe these huge increases in costs will allow as many families to seek the resolution they require. My office will continue to help as many of my constituents as possible to find that resolution,” Horsford said in a statement.
‘A severe labor shortage’
Democratic U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona also criticized USCIS for employment-based fee increases. The proposal would increase H-2A and H-2B visas from $460 to $1,080 and $1,090, respectively.
Last week, Manchin and a bipartisan coalition of U.S. senators sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security urging the agency to hold off on increasing visa fees for foreign workers.
“As you know, we are at a time when many in our country are suffering from a severe labor shortage and persistent inflation. It is irresponsible to so drastically increase the price to access these essential guest worker programs while doing nothing to increase their availability,” reads the letter.
In the letter, the senators also disparaged a proposal to charge employers seeking to sponsor immigrants for permanent U.S. residency or temporary work visas an additional $600 fee to fund the USCIS asylum program, which is responsible for screening asylum seekers along the southern border.
Nevada U.S. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen, who are not signed onto the letter, did not respond to requests for comment on whether they disapprove or support any of the proposed visa fee hikes for families and employers.
Federal immigration officials argue the proposal will benefit the agency and the legal immigration system. The USCIS said that while the proposed rule will increase some fees, it will preserve existing fee waiver eligibility for low-income and vulnerable populations.
The proposed rule would also add new fee exemptions for certain humanitarian programs, including the asylum program. If finalized, the proposed rule would decrease or minimally increase fees for more than one million low-income filers each year, according to USCIS.
“In addition to improving customer service operations and managing the incoming workload, USCIS must continue to fulfill our growing humanitarian mission, upholding fairness, integrity, and respect for all we serve,” said USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou in a statement announcing the proposal in January. “This proposed rule allows USCIS to more fully recover operating costs for the first time in six years and will support the Administration’s effort to rebuild the legal immigration system.”
If you have any questions regarding obtaining your Legal Permanent Residence, please contact our office to set up a consultation.
Certified Specialist – Immigration & Nationality Law
DHS has announced processes through which nationals of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and their immediate family members, may request to come to the United States in a safe and orderly way. Qualified beneficiaries who are outside the United States and lack U.S. entry documents may be considered, on a case-by-case basis, for advanced authorization to travel and a temporary period of parole for up to two years for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. To participate, eligible beneficiaries must:
Have a supporter in the United States;
Undergo and clear robust security vetting;
Meet other eligibility criteria; and
Warrant a favorable exercise of discretion.
Individuals participating in these processes must have a supporter in the United States who agrees to provide them with financial support for the duration of their parole in the United States. The first step in the process is for the U.S.-based supporter to file a Form I-134A, Online Request to be a Supporter and Declaration of Financial Support, with USCIS for each beneficiary they seek to support, including minor children. The U.S. government will then review the supporter information provided in the Form I-134A to ensure that they are able to financially support the beneficiaries they are agreeing to support.
An individual who holds lawful status in the United States or is a parolee or beneficiary of deferred action or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) who has passed security and background vetting and demonstrated sufficient financial resources to receive, maintain, and support the individual(s) whom they commit to supporting for the duration of their stay in the United States.
Examples of individuals who meet the supporter requirement include:
U.S. citizens and nationals;
Lawful permanent residents, lawful temporary residents, and conditional permanent residents;
Nonimmigrants in lawful status (who maintain their nonimmigrant status and have not violated any of the terms or conditions of their nonimmigrant status);
Asylees, refugees, and parolees;
Individuals granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS); and
Beneficiaries of deferred action (including deferred action for childhood arrivals) or DED.
A national of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, or Venezuela (or their immediate family member of any nationality) who is outside the United States and who may be considered for parole under these processes.
Immediate family members of any nationality in these processes include:
A spouse or common-law partner; and
Unmarried child(ren) under the age of 21. NOTE: If a child is under 18, they must be traveling with a parent or legal guardian in order to use this process.
Who May be Considered for Advance Travel Authorization
In order to be eligible to request and ultimately be considered for an advance authorization to travel to the United States to seek parole under these processes, beneficiaries must:
Be outside the United States;
Be a national of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, or Venezuela; or be an immediate family member (spouse, common-law partner, and/or unmarried child under the age of 21) who is traveling with an eligible Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, or Venezuelan;
Have a U.S.-based supporter who filed a Form I-134A on their behalf that USCIS has vetted and confirmed;
Possess an unexpired passport valid for international travel;
Provide for their own commercial travel to an air U.S. POE and final U.S. destination;
Undergo and pass required national security and public safety vetting;
Comply with all additional requirements, including vaccination requirements and other public health guidelines; and
Demonstrate that a grant of parole is warranted based on significant public benefit or urgent humanitarian reasons, and that a favorable exercise of discretion is otherwise merited.
An individual is ineligible to be considered for parole under these processes if that person is a dual national or permanent resident of, or holds refugee status in, another country, unless DHS operates a similar parole process for the country’s nationals. This requirement does not apply to immediate family members (spouse, common-law partner, or unmarried child under the age of 21) of an eligible national of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, or Venezuela with whom they are traveling.
In addition, a potential beneficiary is ineligible for advance authorization to travel to the United States as well as parole under these processes if that person:
Fails to pass national security and public safety vetting or is otherwise deemed not to merit a favorable exercise of discretion;
Has been ordered removed from the United States within the prior five years or is subject to a bar to inadmissibility based on a prior removal order;
Has crossed irregularly into the United States, between the POEs, after the date the process was announced (for Venezuelans, after Oct. 19, 2022; for Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans, after Jan. 9, 2023), except individuals permitted a single instance of voluntary departure pursuant to INA § 240B, 8 U.S.C. § 1229c or withdrawal of their application for admission pursuant to INA § 235(a)(4), 8 U.S.C. § 1225(a)(4) will remain eligible;
Has irregularly crossed the Mexican or Panamanian border after the date the process was announced (for Venezuelans, after Oct. 19, 2022; for Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans, after Jan. 9, 2023); or
Is under 18 and not traveling through this process accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, and as such is a child whom the inspecting officer would determine to be an unaccompanied child.
Important Note about Venezuelan Passports
The beneficiary must have a valid, unexpired passport. Certified extensions of passport validity serve to meet this requirement. If a beneficiary’s passport validity has been extended, the expiration date of the extension should be reflected as the passport expiration date. CBP will not authorize travel if the beneficiary’s passport or extension is expired.
Consistent with the National Assembly decree of May 21, 2019, certain expired Venezuelan passports remain valid. A Venezuelan passport:
Issued before June 7, 2019 (even if expired before this date), without a passport extension (“prórroga”), is considered valid and unexpired for five years beyond the expiration date printed in the passport.
Issued before June 7, 2019 (even if expired before this date), with a “prórroga” issued before June 7, 2019, is considered valid and unexpired for five years beyond the expiration date of the “prórroga.”
Issued before June 7, 2019 (even if expired before this date), with a “prórroga” issued on or after June 7, 2019, is considered valid and unexpired through the expiration date of the “prórroga” or for five years beyond the expiration date printed in the passport, whichever is later.
Issued on or after June 7, 2019, without a “prórroga” is not considered valid beyond the expiration date printed in the passport.
Issued on or after June 7, 2019, with a “prórroga” issued on or after June 7, 2019, is considered valid and unexpired through the expiration date of the “prórroga.”
To verify if you or your loved ones qualify for this process, please contact our office to set up a consultation.
Certified Specialist – Immigration & Nationality Law
On March 3, 2022, Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, designated Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). For the next 18 months, TPS is available for Ukrainian nationals who have continuously resided in the United States since March 1, 2022. Individuals who travel to the United States after March 1, 2022 are not eligible for TPS. Instructions for the TPS application shall be provided in a forthcoming Federal Register notice.
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the designation of Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months.
“Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked attack on Ukraine has resulted in an ongoing war, senseless violence, and Ukrainians forced to seek refuge in other countries,” said Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “In these extraordinary times, we will continue to offer our support and protection to Ukrainian nationals in the United States.”
A country may be designated for TPS when conditions in the country fall into one or more of the three statutory bases for designation: ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or extraordinary and temporary conditions. This designation is based on both ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Ukraine that prevent Ukrainian nationals, and those of no nationality who last habitually resided in Ukraine, from returning to Ukraine safely. These conditions result from the full-scale Russian military invasion into Ukraine, which marks the largest conventional military action in Europe since World War II. This invasion has caused a humanitarian crisis with significant numbers of individuals fleeing and damage to civilian infrastructure that has left many without electricity or water or access to food, basic supplies, shelter, and emergency medical services.
Individuals eligible for TPS under this designation must have continuously resided in the United States since March 1, 2022. Individuals who attempt to travel to the United States after March 1, 2022 will not be eligible for TPS. Ukraine’s 18-month designation will go into effect on the publication date of the forthcoming Federal Registernotice. The Federal Register notice will provide instructions for applying for TPS and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). TPS applicants must meet all eligibility requirements and undergo security and background checks.
Certified Specialist – Immigration & Nationality Law
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program is a set of protections that cover individuals who entered the United States as young people. Through no fault of their own, these aspiring citizens did not have the proper documentation, so DACA was designed to provide recipients the services they need to thrive in America. Those who fall under its umbrella can seek defense against deportation, they may qualify for work permits, and they are often allowed to travel abroad with obtaining an advanced parole (I-131 Application for Travel Document).
If you have questions about your rights under the current DACA rules and regulations, please contact Nassim Arzani, Esq. With two convenient locations in Riverside and Los Angeles, California, Ms. Arzani is a nationally recognized leader in the field of immigration law. Call (951) 683-0900 to learn how DACA can help you live the American dream.
President Obama launched DACA back in 2012. Since then, the program has faced several hurdles and governmental challenges. However, as of December 7th, 2020, DACA has been fully reinstated. Pursuant to a Court Order from the Honorable Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now directed to restore the DACA program.
The Court Order directed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to display a public notice on relevant agency websites that DHS is now:
Accepting first-time DACA requests;
Accepting renewal DACA requests;
Extending the duration of DACA and its accompanied employment authorization documents to two years.
Additionally, the Court Order directed DHS to inform and notify all members of the DACA Class Action suit of this new directive. To learn more about the DACA Class Action lawsuit or to sign up for more information, please visit this web page.
Who Qualifies for DACA
An individual may request DACA protections if they meet the following criteria:
Were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012;
Came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday;
Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making their request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and;
Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
If you have traveled outside the United States, been arrested or convicted of a crime, or beenordered removed or deported, we strongly urge you to consult with an Attorney due to your underlying immigration consequences.
Benefits of Consulting with Nassim Arzani
Nassim Arzani not only has over 17 years of legal experience in immigration matters, but she is a Certified Specialist under the California State Bar. She can help you navigate your unique situation and recommend the best legal course of action in light of the recent reinstatement of DACA.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us at (951) 683-0900, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we are proud to address the immigration needs of Riverside, Los Angeles, and beyond. To get acquainted with Ms. Arzani and her vitally important work, please visit our blog.
Families were meant to stay together. DACA was ratified to help younger individuals fulfill their goals to become United States citizens, despite their legal status when they initially entered the country. Nassim Arzani is an expert in family-based immigration law. She will fight for you and your loved ones to ensure that you get the full array of legal protections that DACA provides.
What is DACA and how does it apply to me?
DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival. If you or someone you know entered the United States as a minor, you may qualify for DACA protections. Recipients may apply for advance parole travel documents and employment authorization, but most importantly: they can retain legal defense against the threat of deportation.
The public charge rule is currently back in full effect. On September 11, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decided to suspend the lower court’s July 29, 2020 nationwide injunction prohibiting DHS from enforcing the public charge rule.1
This means anyone desiring to adjust their status to a lawful permanent resident (LPR), otherwise known as a “green card”, must submit the Form I-944 demonstrating they are not inadmissible under the public charge rule. The I-944 considers several “factors” such as:
Health and insurance;
Assets, resources, and financial status;
Sponsor or co-sponsor’s annual income;
Education and skills; and,
Receipt of enumerated public benefits and the period of time the benefits were received.2
Again, the public charge rule only applies to those who seek to adjust their status to LPR status and excludes other categories of immigrants such as:
Certain T and U Nonimmigrant visa applicant; and,
Certain VAWA petitioners.
If you are a current client pursuing an adjustment, please be aware the public charge rule is currently the subject of constant debate and litigation so things may change in the near future. We assure to update you with any changes. If you are considering adjusting your status to an LPR we strongly urge you consult with our office, so we can best guide you towards overcoming this burdensome provision.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) imposes filing fees on several immigration and naturalization benefit applications. On October 2, 2020, DHS is adjusting the filing fees for many immigration and naturalization applications to help meet operational needs.1 Under this new rule, some filing fees will be increased, others decreased. Some of the increases, however, significantly impact the cost of the more commonly sought immigration benefits, such as naturalization applications, provisional unlawful presence waivers, and certain U-visa benefits. To avoid being subject to these increased costs, we strongly urge any interested applicants to act quickly and submit their applications before the rule takes effect on October 2, 2020. Some of the most noteworthy examples include:
Application for Travel Document, known as an 1-131, typically used for Advance Parole, Parole-In-Place, a Reentry Permit, or a Refugee Travel Document. They will see a 75% increase in price, rising from $575 to $1,010.
Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant, known as a I-192, meant for those who are found inadmissible and will be applying as a U Nonimmigrant Status or T Nonimmigrant Status will see a 51% increase, rising from $930 to $1,400.
More notably, however, a CBP Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant will see a 139% increase, rising from $585 to $1,400.
Form I-193, Application for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa, meant to allow Legal U.S. Residents to reenter the U.S. without their passport/visa, is set to increase by 377%, rising from $585 to $2,790.
Form I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, commonly used when a person has been unlawfully present in the U.S., will increase from $630 to $960, a 52% increase.
Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, will see a 28% increase, from $595 to $760.
Form I-765, Employment Authorization Applications, will rise from $410 to $550 for Non-DACA applicants. The fee for DACA beneficiaries will remain at $410.
Form I-881, Application for Suspension of Deportation or Special Rule Cancellation of Removal, will see an incremental 535% rise from $285 to $1,810.
Form I-929, Petition for a Qualifying Family Member of U-1 Nonimmigrant, used for those who have an approved U Nonimmigrant relative, will rise an exponential 546% from $230 to $1,485.
N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings, will rise from $700 to $1,725, a 147% difference.
N-400, Application for Naturalization, used to apply to become a U.S. citizen will rise from $640 to $1,170, an 81% increase.
El Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DHS) impone tarifas en varias solicitudes de beneficios de inmigración y naturalización. El 2 de Octubre de 2020, DHS va a ajustar las tarifas de muchas solicitudes de inmigración y naturalización para ayudar a satisfacer las necesidades operativas. Según esta nueva regla, se aumentarán algunas tarifas y se reducirán otras. Sin embargo, algunos de los aumentos tienen un impacto significativo en el costo de los beneficios de inmigración más comúnmente buscados, como las solicitudes de naturalización, las exenciones provisionales por presencia ilegal y ciertos beneficios de la visa U. Para evitar estar sujeto a este aumento de costos, insistimos en que los solicitantes interesados actúen rápidamente y envíen sus solicitudes antes de que la regla entre en vigencia el 2 de Octubre de 2020.
Algunos de los ejemplos más notables incluyen:
La solicitud de documento de viaje, conocida como I-131, que generalmente se usa para la libertad condicional anticipada, la libertad condicional en el lugar, un permiso de reingreso o un documento de viaje para refugiados, verá un aumento del 75% en el precio, aumentando de $575.00 a $1,010.00.
La Solicitud de Permiso Avanzado para Ingresar como No Inmigrante, conocida como I-192, destinada a aquellos que son declarados inadmisibles y que solicitarán el Estatus de No Inmigrante U o el Estatus de No Inmigrante T verá un aumento del 51%, aumentando de $930.00 a $1,400.00.
Más notablemente, sin embargo, una Solicitud de CBP para Permiso Anticipado para Ingresar como No Inmigrante verá un aumento del 139%, pasando de $585.00 a $ 1,400.00.
El Formulario I-193, Solicitud de exención de pasaporte y / o visa, destinado a permitir que los residentes legales de los EE. UU. vuelvan a ingresar a los EE. UU. sin su pasaporte / visa, aumentará en un 377%, pasando de $585.00 a $2,790.00.
El Formulario I-601A, Solicitud de Exención Provisional por Presencia Ilegal, comúnmente utilizado cuando una persona ha estado presente ilegalmente en los EE. UU., aumentará de $630.00 a $960.00, un aumento del 52%.
El Formulario I-751, Petición para eliminar las condiciones de residencia, verá un aumento del 28%, de $595.00 a $760.00.
El Formulario I-765, Solicitudes de autorización de empleo, aumentará de $410.00 a $550.00 para los solicitantes que no pertenecen a DACA. La tarifa para los beneficiarios de DACA seguirá siendo de $410.00.
El Formulario I-881, Solicitud de Suspensión de Deportación o Cancelación de Expulsión por Regla Especial, verá un aumento incremental del 535% de $285.00 a $ 1,810.00.
El Formulario I-929, Petición para un familiar calificado de no inmigrante U-1, aumentará un 546% exponencial de $230.00 a $1,485.00.
N-336, Solicitud de audiencia sobre una decisión en procedimientos de naturalización, aumentará de $700.00 a $1,725.00, una diferencia del 147%.
N-400, Solicitud de naturalización, que se utiliza para solicitar la ciudadanía estadounidense aumentará de $640.00 a $1,170.00, un aumento del 81%.
Immigration Court Hearings for non-detained cases in Los Angeles will be postponed for all Master and Individual Hearings scheduled through July 24, 2020. USCIS offices have opened on June 5, 2020. If you have any questions feel free to call us.
Please be advised our office is now open. To maintain social distancing, we take clients by appointment only and limit capacity to two people. All clients are required to wear a face mask when they come into the office and our consultations will be conducted through a glass shield.
DEPORTATION WIN (LPR with Firearm Conviction, Motion to Terminate granted because DHS failed to show by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent is removable as charged)
Our client, National and citizen of Mexico was admitted as a permanent resident on April 13, 1990 and convicted on March 7, 1994 of violating California PC Section 12020(a)(Possession, manufacture, sell a firearm) and sentenced to 270 days in jail. The NTA charged him as being removable pursuant to Section 237(a)(2)(C) of the INA. Our office contested the charge of removability and filed a Motion to Terminate based on the fact that PC 12020(a) is a divisible statute which requires the modified categorical approach and DHS failed to meet their burden by clear and convincing evidence that the instant conviction was a firearm offense. The Honorable Immigration Judge in Los Angeles agreed and granted our motion.
Respondent happily resides in Riverside with his wife and three children.