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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:
FOLLOW UP ON INDIAN PASSPORT ARTICLE IN LAST ISSUE
By DILIP PATEL (www.dplawfirm.com)
I am receiving a large number of emails and phone calls in response to my article last month about the need to surrender your Indian passport when you become a United States citizen. I will write another more detailed article in the next issue. In the meantime, I provide below one reader question and my answer as this may be useful to others.
I read your article in Khaas Baat about Indian passport and Indian visa. I understand that even OCI/ PIO card holders do need a visa stamped in their American passport. Cases have been reported where the person was denied entry into India when that person failed to take his old American passport where visa was stamped and had an OCI card. I was told that OCI card is in addition to an Indian Visa. Please clarify this point to me as well as in Khaas Baat because your article implies that PIO and OCI card holders do not need a visa. – Virendra K. Gupta
Answer: Thank you for your comment. As it was a very short article, I could not get into all the details – the focus was to answer the question about the need to surrender the Indian passport. The clarification you seek is posted on Consulate Web site:
While traveling to India OCI Card holders must carry the OCI Card as well as their nationality passport on which ‘U’ Visa has been affixed. In case the OCI Card holder has obtained new passport after expiry of the validity of the passport on which ‘U’ Visa had been affixed, he/she must carry both the old and the new passport along with the OCI Card for entry into India.
To transfer the visa to a new passport, apply for OCI Miscellaneous Services as per details on webpage. OCI Miscellaneous Services have been introduced for re-issue of OCI Registration Card and ‘U’ Visa in case of new passport, loss or damage of OCI Registration Card/’U’ Visa or changes in personal particulars.
NOTE FROM DILIP PATEL: Please note that my expertise is United States immigration law. The information in the article was in response to specific requests and provided as a community service. For definitive answers to questions on Indian Nationality laws, I would refer readers to the Consulate General of India, Houston.
‘I FORGOT TO TURN IN MY I-94 FORM! WHAT DO I DO?’
Occasionally, a nonimmigrant visa holder forgets to relinquish his or her I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) when departing the United States. In such instances, it is possible that the individual’s departure was not recorded properly, and CBP may conclude that he or she remained in the U.S. beyond the authorized stay. If this happens, the next time the person attempts to enter the U.S. the visa may be subject to cancellation or the person may be returned immediately to his or her foreign point of origin. What’s the person do to?
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) provides the following advice: If the departure was by a commercial airline or cruise ship, the departure from the U.S. can be independently verified, and no further action is necessary. (Nevertheless, holding on to and presenting, if necessary, the outbound boarding pass can help expedite reentry in the U.S.) If, however, the departure was by land, private vessel, or private plane, the individual should take steps to correct the record. CBP further cautions that under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), visitors who remain beyond their permitted stay in the U.S. cannot reenter the U.S. in the future without obtaining a visa from a U.S. consulate. (VWP travelers who enter Canada or Mexico by land for an onward flight should, in particular, register their timely departure if their green I-94W was not taken when they exited the U.S, which often is the case.)
For those who fail to turn in their I-94 Departure Record, send the I-94 along with any documentation that proves the departure from U.S. to: DHS-CBP SBU, 1084 South Laurel Road, London, KY 40744. Do not mail to a U.S. Consulate or Embassy. CBP will consider a variety of information that proves departure from the U.S., including original boarding passes, entry stamps to another country, subsequent pay stubs from abroad, bank deposit records showing transactions abroad, school records from abroad, credit card receipts showing purchases made abroad, etc. The Kentucky office above does not answer correspondence, so such individuals are advised to keep copies of documentation submitted to correct their record.
SENATE VOTES FOR INCREASE IN CERTAIN H-1B AND L-1 FILING FEES
On Aug. 5, the Senate passed a $600 million emergency spending bill aimed at improving border security. In order to fund the legislation, the measure includes provision for significantly higher filing fees on many IT staffing companies as well as other companies with large numbers of foreign workers. Further action is required by the House of Representatives before it can be sent to the president for signature.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.dplawfirm.com
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