Immigration Fees Going Up Again

As an immigration lawyer, I recently explained to a client that the USCIS filing fees for a U.S. citizen's new spouse and her two children to apply for a green card here in the U.S. would be $3935. That's just the USCIS filing fees, and does not include any legal fee, the medical exam fee, or any costs to obtain documents. (For those counting, it breaks down to: Form I-485 for spouse, $1010; Forms I-485 for two minor children, $930 each; Form I-130 for spouse and two children, $355 each). Now these fees are going to go even higher.

The USCIS announced in the Federal Register its proposed rule for new fees. Although the proposed rule is forty-four pages of small type printed three columns to a page, it provides background for USCIS fee increases, describes the studies conducted to determine the new fees, and explains the considerations that went into place in determining new fees. Furthermore, comments from the public are welcome and encouraged. The first page of the rule explains how to submit comments.

The USCIS is raising fees because it needs to cover the costs of providing the service it provides. It is generally raising fees across the board by 10%. This would raise the filing fees for the U.S. citizen spouse and two children above, to over $4300.

The USCIS is also going to implement a new fee for civil surgeons to be designated providers by the USCIS. Civil surgeons complete the medical examination form required for green card applicants. The U.S. citizen's spouse and children would need to undergo a medical exam with a civil surgeon as part of their green card application. Surely this new fee on civil surgeons will simply be passed through to the applicants, thereby further increasing the financial burden on green card applicants.

Out of curiosity I looked up what the filing fees would have been for the same U.S. citizen spouse and her two children, back in 2002. Their USCIS filing fees would have totaled only $920 (Form I-485 for spouse, $220; Form I-485 for two minor children, $160 each; Form I-130 for spouse and two children, $110 each; fingerprint fee for spouse, $50). When compared to today's filing fees of $3935, this equates to more than a 325% increase over the last 8 years.

by Michelle Gee