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PROPOSED FEE INCREASE FOR IMMIGRATION APPLICATIONS
By GAIL SEERAM, ATTORNEY AT LAW (1-877-GAIL-LAW)
On June 11, 2010, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a proposal to increase the filing fees for immigration applications and petitions by a weighted average of about 10 percent but would not increase the fee for the naturalization application. The last fee increase by USCIS was in 2008.
USCIS is a fee-based organization with about 90 percent of its budget coming from fees paid by applicants and petitioners to obtain immigration benefits. USCIS’s fee revenue in fiscal years 2008 and 2009 was much lower than projected, and fee revenue in fiscal year 2010 remains low. According to USCIS, the fee increase is necessary to ensure USCIS recovers the costs of its operations.
USCIS encourages formal comments on the proposed rule through www.regulations.gov. The comment period runs for 45 days, beginning June 11, 2010 and ending July 26, 2010. At a time where the country is in a recession and unemployment is quite high, USCIS should not be considering such a fee increase, but should focus on reducing related costs and expenses.
Applicant should keep in mind that fee waivers requests will continue to be considered by USCIS. USCIS has the ability to waive fees on a case-by-case basis for “inability to pay.” In determining “inability to pay,” USCIS officers consider all factors, circumstances, and evidence supplied by the applicant. Below are the current and proposed fees for some commonly filed applications:
INDIAN PASSPORTS, U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND VISAS TO VISIT INDIA: THE LATEST GUIDANCE
By DILIP PATEL (www.dplawfirm.com)
This article is in response to numerous inquiries from members of the Indian origin community and will provide guidance based on the latest information available from the Indian consulates in USA. The information was validated and is believed to be accurate as of July 22.
The most frequent questions came from persons who held Indian passports but are now naturalized U.S. citizens. One important point to note is that even though the United States recognizes that dual citizenship can exist, the Indian Citizenship Act does not allow dual citizenship. The Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Scheme gives many of the rights enjoyed by Indian citizens, but not all and is not Indian Citizenship. If you ever held an Indian passport and if you naturalized as a U.S. Citizen, you need to surrender your Indian passport immediately after you naturalize as a U.S. citizen. It is illegal to travel on your Indian passport if you have naturalized as a U.S. citizen. Under U.S. law, you have to use your U.S. passport to travel in and out of the United States.
Under Indian law, it is illegal to hold a non-cancelled Indian passport after acquiring foreign citizenship. The maximum punishment could be severe: imprisonment for up to five years and fines up to $1,250.
You will need your cancelled Indian passport if you want to apply for an Indian visa in your U.S. passport or if you want to apply for a PIO or an OCI card.
How to Cancel/Surrender your Indian Passport
You need to complete the Renunciation of Indian Citizenship Form and send it with the right fee to the appropriate Indian Consulate. Florida residents would deal with the Indian Consulate in Houston. The form is available at the consulate Web site at http://cgihouston.org/renunciation_form.pdf. The fee stated on the form is $175. However, the correct fee depends on when you naturalized as a U.S. citizen. If you naturalized on or before May 30, 2010, the fee is only $20. The fee is $175 for those who naturalized as U.S. citizens on or after June 1, 2010. Those who used their Indian passports for travel after naturalizing as a US citizen would have to pay additional fines and should contact the Consulate for further information.
You also need to include an additional $20 per family for mailing charges; your original Indian Passport with a photocopy of the first five pages and last two pages; a photocopy of first two pages of the U.S. passport; and, a photocopy of the U.S. naturalization certificate.
Your passport will be cancelled and returned to you along with the surrender certificate.
Entry Visas for Persons of Indian Origin
Travisa Outsourcing handles all visa processing for the Indian consulates in USA and their Web site is at https://indiavisa.travisaoutsourcing.com/homepage
Any person of Indian Origin but a citizen of another country must obtain a visa to travel to India (unless they have an OCI or PIO card). Indian Origin persons need an “Entry Visa;” others need a tourist visa. For this reason, it is important to understand the definition of Indian Origin. A person of Indian Origin is defined as a person who has held Indian nationality, or is a child or grandchild of a person who held Indian nationality. Full details of the Entry Visa application are available on the Travisa Outsourcing Web site. One point, which is missing on the Travisa Web site and the consular Web site concerns persons of Indian Origin who never held an Indian Passport. If you are of Indian Origin but never held an Indian passport, you should submit, in duplicate, a notarized statement confirming details of the place of your birth and confirming that you never held an Indian passport. This will avoid additional delays.
Dilip Patel of Dilip Patel Law Firm (Business and Immigration Attorneys) is board certified in immigration and nationality law. He can be reached at (813) 855-0066, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.dplawfirm.com
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