USCIS Raising Filing Fees…Again

The USCIS announced late in September of this year, that they would be raising filing fees on some of their immigration forms. Starting November 23, 2010, the overall USCIS filing fee increase will be about 10%, with increases for some forms, like the I-90, I-130 and N-600, going up between 20 and 30%.

Over 90% of the USCIS’s budget is based on revenue obtained from fees collected from filing immigration forms. But since 2008, the USCIS has been losing revenue and the outlook for 2010 is not encouraging. The USCIS has made budget cuts totaling $160 million but these have not been enough to bridge the gap between the USCIS revenue and costs. For fiscal year (FY) 2011, fees will account for approximately $2.4 billion of USCIS’s $2.8 billion budget request.

Are filing fee increases sustainable? Last time the USCIS raised fees in 2007 on the naturalization application from $400 to $675, it resulted in an 80% drop in the number of N-400 forms filed. Therefore, one is left to wonder what the current increase in filing fees will do. Will it result in less immigration applications and petitions being filed, resulting in a further decline in revenue for the USCIS? It is a catch-22 and the USCIS has to find more innovative ways to obtain revenue. In a recent article, Carl Shusterman suggested that charging a $100 fee for applying for green card lottery online could help, and revenue collected could be split between the State Department and the USCIS. Another way may be to allow law-abiding, undocumented immigrants to file for legal status and the fees collected can also contribute to the USCIS’s budget.

The USCIS should start thinking outside the box in raising revenue. Raising filing fees will not be enough. If anything, it will discourage more and more people from immigrating to the United States.

At the base of the Statue of Liberty are Emma Lazarus’ words: "Give me your tired, your poor,/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." On November 23, 2010, the USCIS filing fees will increase again. Let’s not become a nation that closes its doors to those most in need.


Alicia en el país de las maravillas: The New Tea Party

Lewis Carroll wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865. It’s regarded as one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre. In Chapter 7, Alice becomes a guest at a "mad" tea party along with the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, and a sleeping Dormouse. The characters, specifically the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, ask Alice many riddles and tell numerous stories.

After a while, Alice becomes insulted and tired by all the riddles and she leaves stating that is was the most idiotic tea party she ever attended.

It’s 2010 and November mid-term elections are just around the corner. Tea Party candidates are telling their own version of the story except Alice is Alicia, an illegal immigrant, and her journey is documented in Alicia en el país de las maravillas. This “mad” tea party is always well attended by many Mad Hatters and March Hares, from the US Senatorial candidate from Nevada, Sharon Angle to the GOP gubernatorial candidate from Colorado, Tom Tancredo, to the US Senatorial candidate from Kentucky, Rand Paul, to the US Senatorial candidate from Louisiana, David Vitter, to the US Senatorial candidate from Delaware, Christine O’Donnell, just to mention a few. In a time when Americans are losing jobs, losing their homes, losing their healthcare benefits, and losing hope, these Mad Hatters and March Hares are focusing their attention on Illegal Immigration. It’s always easy to focus on those that don’t have a voice rather than offer real solutions in solving today’s economic woes.

But if these candidates want to focus on illegal immigration, they should approach the topic seriously and offer constructive plans, not based on “mad hatred”, but based on fundamental US principles on which this country was built upon.


Born This Month


John Lennon at 70

John Lennon, one of the founding members of one of the most influential rock groups, The Beatles, would have turned 70 on October 9th of this year. But in 1980, at the age of 40, he was gunned down in front of his home in New York City. Born John Winston Lennon, he with Paul McCartney, formed one of the most successful songwriting partnerships in rock and roll history. Their string of hits include “In My Life,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “A Day in a Life,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “All You Need is Love”, just to mention a few.

He was an anti-war and civil right activist. President Richard Nixon tried to have him deported because he felt that John Lennon’s anti-Vietnam War views and support of his Democratic rival, George McGovern, would have cost him his re-election. In 1975, President Gerald Ford was not interested in continuing this silliness with John Lennon and had the deportation order overturned.

In 1976, John Lennon became a Green Card holder. He would have been eligible for US Citizenship in 1981, but unfortunately, his life was prematurely taken from us in 1980.

The kind of man that John Lennon was can best be summed up by the lyrics of one of his most famous songs, “Imagine”:

“Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one.”

Happy 70th Birthday, John!



USCIS Begins Issuing New, Redesigned Green Card

USCIS has announced the launch of a new, feature-laden permanent resident card that it began issuing in May. The new card is actually green, in keeping with its nickname. High-tech features of the new green card include optical media to store biometric information, laser engraved fingerprints, holographic images, and radio frequency identification.