US CIS Announces Filing Fee “Adjustment” & Is U.S. Immigration Harmful to the Environment
April 30, 2004

US CIS Announces Filing Fee “Adjustment”

According to a US CIS (formerly INS) press release issued earlier this month, new, “adjusted” immigration filing fees will go into effect as of Friday, April 30, 2004. What does this mean for you? The filing fee you pay for each document submitted to the USCIS will increase by an average of $55.00. The fee for Biometrics (fingerprinting and photos) will also increase by $20 for certain applications. (To view a complete list of new filing fees, visit

Why the increase? Under pressure from President Bush to enhance their security measures following September 11th, USCIS has implemented new security programs-like mandatory FBI background checks-in an effort to control who is allowed access to U.S. immigration benefits, and who is not. Many of you have already experienced the decrease in customer service and dramatic increase in processing time these extra security measures have created.

The current filing fee increases are USCIS’ attempt remedy this situation. With more funding, USCIS hopes to not only improve their security, but also provide more effective customer service. According to sources at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, one example includes US CIS plans to introduce a new 1-800 telephone system that would allow customers direct access to USCIS information officers for questions regarding pending cases and other immigration issues (as opposed to the less than effective customer service line currently in place). In response to an Interactive Voice Response System (IVR), callers will be transferred directly to the appropriate officer, eliminating the time it takes to navigate the current automated system. No specific date has been set for the system’s introduction, but it has been projected to go into effect as early as the end of this year.

Another goal USCIS has for the filing fee adjustment is an elimination of the massive backlog of applications currently waiting to be processed. No details have yet to be released regarding how the USCIS plans to actually accomplish this mammoth task, but their end goal is a six-month processing time standard for all immigration benefit applications by 2006.

Grand plans, indeed.

Is U.S. Immigration Harmful to the Environment?

The Sierra Club, America’s oldest, largest and most influential environmental group, recently conducted elections to fill five spots on its national board of directors and record numbers of club members were drawn to the polls. What is the reason some 200,000 members participated in the elections-23% of the group’s entire membership-compared to previous elections, which drew percentages in the single digits?

The answer: to answer an attempt by a group of anti-immigration activists to hijack the organization and establish a new anti-immigration agenda, an agenda rooted in the premise that current US immigration trends pose a significant threat to our nation’s environment.

Historically neutral on the subject, this recent election forced the Sierra Club to take a stance on the subject of immigration. It also focused attention on the overall, societal question of whether immigration to the U.S. presents detrimental environmental consequences.

In the end, the campaign of the anti-immigrant activists was defeated, resulting in the ratification of the Sierra Club’s position on the issue: that the environment must be viewed on a global level, and that overpopulation must be addressed on a global scale, rather than within the arbitrary boundaries of nations and states. The election results are of special importance, given the Sierra Club’s significant political clout, which dates back to the early 19th century and its influence on President Theodore Roosevelt’s innovative conservation programs, including the first National Monuments and Yosemite National Park.

Copyright © 2004-2008, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois