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USCIS sets date to raise filing fees

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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced Dec. 23, 2016 as the effective date for a hike in filing fees. The fee increase will impact some Maryland residents and companies when they file forms for certain visas. Nearly all of the funding for USCIS comes from benefit request fees paid by petitioners and applicants. The greatest scheduled increases will apply to foreign investors immigrating to the U.S. and U.S. employers bringing in foreign employees who have college educations.

More specifically, the largest increase applies to the filing fee for Form I-526, a required part of the EB-5 visa process. Form I-526 filing fees are scheduled to increase from $1,500 to $3,675. The EB-5 visa program makes green cards available to foreign residents based on significant business investment and U.S. job creation.

USCIS has announced a 42 percent hike in the Form I-129 filing fee, from $325 up to $460. Form I-129 is used for some professional visas. Foreign workers seeking permanent resident status will pay a 21 percent higher fee, as the Form I-140 filing fee is set to move from $580 up to $700. There are 790 regional centers approved by USCIS, each of which is required to file Form I-924A annually. A new filing fee has been established for this form, in the amount of $3,035, to cover the administrative costs associated with the regional center program.

Changes in rules and regulations are not uncommon, but USCIS fees have not been overhauled like this since 2010. People who are affected by the new rules may want to speak to an attorney who has experience in immigration and naturalization law. Counsel may be able to help by interacting with USCIS officials on behalf of a petitioner or by drafting and filing the documents necessary to secure a green card.

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