On February 9, 2010, the Department of State (DOS) issued a proposed rule to increase fees for certain consular services. DOS announced that it is adjusting the fees in light of an independent cost of service study, which found that the government is not fully covering its costs for providing consular services under the current fee structure.
There are two important fee changes listed in the proposed rule. First, the proposed rule establishes a tiered application processing fee for immigrant visas depending on the visa category, as determined by the cost of processing that particular category of visa. Second, the proposed rule increases the adult passport book application fee from $55 to $70.
1. Immigrant Visa Processing Fees
DOS is changing the fee for processing an immigrant visa from $355 for all immigrant visas, to a four-tiered fee based on estimates for each category of immigrant visa, as applications for certain categories of immigrant visas cost more to process than others. As a reminder, immigrant visa fees are collected by the DOS when applicants apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, rather than applying for a green card in the U.S.
The new tiered system will have the following cost changes:
· Family-based (immediate relative and preference) visas, which are processed on the basis of an I-130, I-600 or I-800 petition, will be $330.
· Employment-based visas, which are processed on the basis of an I-140 petition, will increase significantly to $720.
· Other immigrant visa applications, including for I-360 self- petitioners, special immigrant visa applicants and all others, will have a fee of $305.
· Winners of the Diversity Visa lottery who apply for immigrant visas will increase from $375 to $440 based on estimates for an FY 2010 workload projection of 81,000 applications.
· DOS also is increasing the immigrant visa security surcharge, which almost all applicants must pay, from $45 to $74 to cover increased security costs.
2. Fees for U.S. Passports
DOS is increasing the application fee for a passport book for an adult (age 17 and older) from $55 to $70. The application fee for a passport book for a minor (age 16 and younger) will remain at $40. DOS also is increasing the security surcharge from $20 to $40 as well, in order to cover the costs of increased border security which includes, but is not limited to, enhanced biometric features in the passport book itself.
Additional fee increases for passport services:
· Extra pages – In the past, DOS provided extra pages in a customer’s passport, to which foreign countries’ visas may then be affixed, at no charge. DOS now will charge $82 for this service.
· Passport Card – DOS has decided to raise the adult passport card application fee from $20 to just $30, and the minor passport card application fee from $10 to just $15.
· Documentation for Renunciation of Citizenship – The cost study found that documenting a U.S. citizen’s renunciation of citizenship is extremely costly, requiring American consular officers overseas to spend substantial amounts of time to accept, process, and adjudicate cases. A new fee of $450 will be established to help defray a small portion of the total cost to the government of documenting the renunciation of citizenship.
When will the fees increase?
DOS intends to implement this proposed rule, and initiate collection of the new fees, as soon as practicable following the expiration of the 30-day public comment period following publication in the Federal Register on February 9, 2010, and after the DOS has had the opportunity to fully consider any public comments received. Klasko will alert our clients who may potentially be impacted by the increased fees.