23 May USCIS Filing Fees for EB-5 Visas are Going Up
May 16, 2016
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made public a proposed rule that seeks to increase filing fees charged by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for EB-5 visa processes and several other visa categories.
Examples of commonly used forms that would see fee increases are:
|EB-5 Petitions||Current Fee||Proposed Fee|
|I-526||Petition for Alien Entrepreneur||$ 1500||$ 3,675|
|I-829||Petition to Remove Conditions||$ 3750||No Change|
|—||Biometrics Fee||$ 85||No Change|
|I-924||Application for Regional Center or Amendment||$ 6,230||$ 17,795|
|I-924A||Annual Reporting Supplement for Regional Centers||None||$ 3,035|
|General Immigration Petitions|
|I-129||Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker||$ 325||$ 460|
|I-130||Petition for Alien Relative||$ 420||$ 535|
|I-131||Application for Travel Document||$ 360||$ 575|
|I-140||Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker||$ 580||$ 700|
|I-485||Application to Register / Adjust Status||$ 985||$1140|
|I-539||Application to Extend / Change Nonimmigrant Status||$ 290||$ 370|
|I-765||Application for Employment Authorization||$ 380||$ 410|
|N-400||Application for Naturalization||$ 595||$ 640|
The USCIS proposes to increase fees by a weighted average of 21%. EB-5 filing fees, however, are hit particularly hard, with both totally new fees and fee increases of over 100% in the I-526 process and the I-924 process.
Hiring New Personnel
USCIS indicates that it requires the fee increase to improve the EB-5 program by hiring more auditors, compliance officers and other personnel whose primary focus would be to ensure regulatory compliance.
More Site Visits
USCIS specifically states additional fees for the EB-5 program would be used in part to pay for more site visits to Regional Centers. This is referred to specifically in USCIS comments to the new I-924A Annual Reporting Fee.
This means USCIS is clearly expecting to increase the number of in-person visits to existing Regional Centers to review documents and interview personnel.
USCIS indicated that it intended to revise the regulations for the I-924A annual report by a Regional Center. The change specifically mentioned would be to create a procedure whereby a Regional Center owner could withdraw their
approval to discontinue participation of the Regional Center in the EB-5 program. The goal of this change was reduce the need for USCIS to issue Notices of Intent to Terminate to dormant Regional Centers which are not operating.
New Fees; Better Service?
Among the fee changes proposed for the EB-5 program, the increase in the application fee for a Regional Center designation or amendment from $6,230 (already the highest fee in the USCIS system) to $17,795.
According to USCIS, it received 412 new I-924 applications over the 13-month period of August 1, 2014 through August 31, 2015.
The EB-5 industry has often times called for a higher processing fee for I-924 applications for original Regional Center designation, or any amendments including I-526 Exemplar applications. The conventional thinking by the EB-5 industry on I-924 fees is that USCIS would increase fees to provide faster, more accurate and more user-friendly services.
The 186% increase in I-924 application fees, however, comes with no USCIS promises of better services.
The main questions USCIS is asking itself about increasing I-924 fees is whether it will make it difficult for small Regional Centers to get started, and whether Regional Centers will be able to pass this fee on to investors in their projects.
USCIS is accepting comments on the proposed rule until July 5, 2016. After that, the proposed rule is expected to be adopted as final and binding during the fall of 2016.
I.A. Donoso & Associates is uniquely positioned to report on regulatory changes because of our location in Washington, D.C. We will continue to monitor any USCIS regulatory actions that will affect the EB-5 Regional Center Program and Immigrant Investors.
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