Mon | Oct 26, 2020

US immigration rates spike October 2

Published:Monday | September 21, 2020 | 12:14 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer

If you are intending to file for your family members, seeking to become a naturalised citizen, or desirous of regularising your status in the United States, the Trump administration has proposed steep increases in fees governing these services.

The new fees go into effect on October 2.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has proposed hiking fees for green card application, change of status, and citizen naturalisation by between 21 and 45 per cent.

Green card application fees will move to US$2,750, change of status to just under US$1,000, while naturalisation will cost US$1,170.

The administration is proposing that the green card fee move by US$990, or more than 56 per cent. Naturalisation costs will rise by US$445, or 61 per cent.

Change of status fees are currently US$540.

At the same time, the administration is also proposing doing away with waivers for persons who cannot afford the fees. Previously, someone showing extreme hardships could have these fees waived.

Among Jamaicans affected by the proposed fee increases, the mood is one of resignation. Several Jamaicans with whom The Gleaner spoke said that the hike would not stop them from applying for their family members.

Immigration advocates said that the new fee structure could prove burdensome to immigrants who need to access services.

These advocates are complaining that the proposed increases are more than 14 times the rate of inflation.

“The fees collected are being diverted into enforcement, and we should view them as the administration’s ‘invisible wall’ as they are less a way of funding a federal agency and more of a political strategy aimed at pricing out low-income immigrants and deterring people from certain countries from coming to the United States,” said immigration attorney Wayne Golding Sr.