Will USCIS Filing Fees Rise Again?

On November 3, 2010, 97 new U.S. Representatives were elected into office. They are part of the 112th Congress that came into power on January 5, 2011 and most of them do not believe in real Immigration Reform. They seem to be interesting more in passing legislation to further secure our borders. The new House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) has stated that his Committee will make “make the largest series of spending cuts in history.” And the new House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) wants to decrease 2011 “non-security discretionary spending” levels to fiscal year 2008 levels. This also means that defense spending will be untouched by this House. The House Republican Leadership is aiming at cutting fiscal year 2011 appropriations dramatically and a concern is that this may include cutting any congressional funding to the USCIS.
Over 90% of the USCIS’s budget is based on revenue obtained from fees collected from filing immigration forms. This accounted for $2.4 billion of USCIS’s $2.8 billion budget in fiscal year 2011. With some of its budget appropriated by the U.S. Congress, any further cuts may result in the USCIS raising its fees again. I hope this is not the case since we already have seen in recent years increases in fees for filing for U.S. Citizenship, for sponsoring a relative and for renewing one’s Green Card.
I hope that these fears are not justified but this new 112th Congress does not seem willing to tackle immigration reform. In his State of the Union, President Obama said:

Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. And I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows. (Applause.) I know that debate will be difficult. I know it will take time. But tonight, let’s agree to make that effort. And let’s stop expelling talented, responsible young people who could be staffing our research labs or starting a new business, who could be further enriching this nation.”

We need to work on passing the DREAM Act and addressing the undocumented worker issue. But it has to be constructive and will require people working together. And let us not raise USCIS fees again because we should welcome all immigrants not the ones that can afford to come here.