New Immigration Changes Soon to Take Effect
Forward Movement in Employment-based Priority Dates
The June Visa Bulletin from the Department of State had some good news for Indian nationals seeking employment-based immigrant visas. The first preference category remains current, the second-preference category advanced 14 months, while the third-preference category advanced over two years. Those in the second and third-preference categories waiting to file Form I-485 will thus have less time to wait – not, however, a short enough period to be able to avoid the USCIS fee increases, which take effect July 30. As fees for most forms will go up on that date, those petitioners and applicants who can file prior to July 30, should do so.
Filing Fee Increase
While the final fee schedule is a reduction from that originally proposed, it still represents a sharp increase in many cases. For example, the fee for an I-130 Relative Petition will rise to $355; for an I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker to $320; and for an I-140 Petition for Immigrant Worker to $475. The supplemental and fraud detection fees associated with certain I-129s remain unchanged; however, the new I-140 fee includes the costs for interim employment and travel authorization. New fees for Form I-485 Adjustment of Status range from $600 to $1,010 depending on the age and circumstances of the filer, except for those admitted as refugees, who pay no I-485 filing fee. The complete new fee schedule is available on the USCIS web site.
New Department of Labor Regulations
Petitioning employers and the beneficiaries of their petitions will face a new fee situation even sooner than July 30. The Department of Labor (DOL) has published Final Regulations implementing significant restrictions to the labor certification program, effective July 16. These include a new requirement for employers to pay all the costs of the labor certification process, including attorney’s fees. Further, it is not clear that a foreign national beneficiary in a labor certification case will be able to make any payment to an attorney after July 16, even if the case was filed prior to that date. Therefore, all potential beneficiaries of petitions requiring labor certification will likely want to consult an attorney immediately, to give themselves the most lead time before the new prohibition kicks in.
New Citizenship Benefits
Finally, in a May 24 Fact Sheet, the USCIS clarified the augmented citizenship benefits available to non-citizen members of the military on active duty. Those individuals may apply for citizenship immediately, regardless of their length of service. In addition to members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines, certain reserve units of the National Guard and of the Ready Reserve are included.
Active duty military personnel also pay no filing fee for the application; have a designated local point-of-contact to assist the applications process; and may be sworn in overseas. Significant benefits accrue to survivors of U.S. citizen members of the military who die as a result of combat, including the expedited opportunity to file for citizenship; and non-citizen military personnel who are combat-related casualties may receive posthumous citizenship. Surviving family members of those so naturalized receive special consideration for immigration benefits.
Immigration Law Associates, P.C. has seventeen years experience in the practice of a wide range of immigration matters. For a consultation tailored to your individual situation, call (847) 763-8500, (or visit our web site at www.immig-chicago.com
Contributed by the staff of Immigration law Associates,P.C.Disclaimer: The materials contained herein have been prepared by Immigration law Associates, P.C. for informational purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice. The materials on this or associated pages, documents, comments, answers, e-mail, articles or other communications related to this article should not be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. The materials and /or transmission of the information are not intended to create and receipt does not constitute, an attorney client relationship