MIAMI: Manuel Guadamuz, a Nicaraguan immigrant who arrived in 1981, couldn't find his green card the other day and finally concluded that he had lost it. While losing his green card was an inconvenience, Guadamuz in a way was lucky he lost it now - rather than later. The prices of most federal immigration documents, including green-card replacements, are scheduled to increase next month, the second fee increase in three years.
Immigrants across the nation are bracing for the increases first announced in early June by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas. It's unclear whether the number of people filing for documents is increasing in anticipation of Nov. 23, when the fee for a new green-card petition will increase from $930 to $985.
But figures released Friday by Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that oversees immigration benefits, show an increase. Immigration authorities would not speculate why the 41,187 new green-card petitions filed nationwide in September was the highest monthly number in the last 12 months, but it was the month USCIS said the fee increase was on track to start Nov. 23.
Immigration officials have said higher fees are necessary because of a drop in agency revenue caused by the filing of fewer applications. Mayorkas said in June that members of immigrant communities across the nation told him the decline was likely due to the economic downturn. Work permits will rise from $340 to $380. Work permits are widely sought by immigrants who have Temporary Protected Status or who are awaiting a decision on an immigration case.
Fees for filing applications to replace a green card are going up from $290 to $365. However, the final cost will be higher because in many instances, USCIS also requires payment for "biometrics"- fingerprints and photographs. The biometric fee is going up from $80 to $85. Someone seeking to replace a green card will pay $450 under the new fee schedule, instead of $370.
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