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By David M. Sperling, Esq.

Anyone thinking of filing an immigration application or petition can save a few hundred dollars for holiday presents by filing before Dec. 23.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will raise their fees for most forms an average of 23 percent. This fee increase is the first hike since November, 2010. USCIS’ budget is funded almost entirely by client fees for immigration applications and petitions.

Anyone filing a “one-stop” Adjust of Status application will save $270 by applying before Dec. 23. Current fees of $1,490 will jump to $1,760. Fees for Advance Parole, used by many TPS and DACA beneficiaries, will shoot up 60 percent — from $360 to $575,

Other forms have only modest fee increases. A work permit will cost only $30 more, from $380 to $410. Naturalization applications will increase only $45, from $595 to $640. A new provision provides for reducing filing fees for Naturalization applicants with family incomes greater than 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, and no more than 200 percent of the guidelines.

The reduced fee would be $320, a savings of $275.

For example, a 4-member household would qualify if total annual incomes was between $36,000 and $48,000.

The new I-601A provisional waiver for family members of Legal Permanent Residents and U.S. Citizens will rise from $585 to $630. But the fee for a general I-601 wavier (for fraud or criminal activity, for example) will skyrocket from $585 to $930.

As in the past, USCIS will accept fee waivers for many, but not all, applications and petitions. This includes battered spouses, VAWA applicants, and Citizenship applicants.

Anyone eligible to file a petition or application should start immediately collecting the necessary documents and information. An application for a Green Card, for example, may require not only basic identification documents such as birth and marriage certificates, but also medical evaluations that only certain designated doctors can perform. In most cases, up-to-date financial information including tax returns are also required.

The fee to replace a Green Card will jump from $365 to $455, providing an even greater incentive for applicants to apply for U.S. Citizenship.

All submissions filed on or after Dec. 23 with incorrect fees will be rejected.


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