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.