AILA Opposes Proposal by USCIS to Increase Immigration Filing Fees

January 31, 2007

George Tzamaras

WASHINGTON, DC - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) opposes the proposal by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to increase immigration filing fees by an average of 66%. "This increase would create a barrier for some immigrants and serve as a new tax on applicants seeking to immigrate or to become citizens," said Carlina Tapia-Ruano, President of AILA.

"USCIS may well be the only government agency other than the Postal Service that tries to operate 99% on user fees," added Tapia-Ruano. "These fees are expected to pay not just for the services delivered to the applicant, but for the agency's overhead and for law enforcement activities such as investigations and security checks. It is well past time that the Administration requested, and the Congress appropriated, funds to allow this agency to properly do its job. Funding an entire agency on the backs of immigrants and their U.S. citizen spouses is beyond the pale."

"Also, AILA is concerned that the public will not get significantly improved services to go with the significantly increased fees," said Tapia-Ruano. "USCIS Director Gonzalez has stated a goal for the agency of a 20% improvement in processing times by the end of 2009. A 66% increase in fees now for at best a 20% improvement in service three years from now is simply not acceptable."

Over the past 12 years we already have seen a fourfold increase in the cost of applying for citizenship. This proposed hike would result in a more than sevenfold increase. In 1994 the cost was only $95, now the total fees are $400, and under this proposal they will become $675. AILA is unconvinced that the money from new increases will be put toward improving the antiquated systems that have caused years-long delays in the path to citizenship.

"Raising the cost of immigration applications is not a viable solution," added Tapia-Ruano. "It is time for the Administration and Congress to step up and fund the government's fair share of the process."

Founded in 1946, AILA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that provides its Members with continuing legal education, information, professional services and expertise through its 35 chapters and over 75 national committees. AILA also advocates before Congress and the Administration, as well as provides liaison with government agencies in support of pro-immigration initiatives. AILA is an Affiliated Organization of the American Bar Association.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 07013179.