Per the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) § 286(m), 8 U.S.C. 1356(m), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has the authority to charge fees for immigration adjudication and naturalization services at a level to “ensure recover of the full costs of providing all such services, including the costs of similar services provided without charge to asylum applicants or other immigrants.” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is primarily funded by these fees, which are used to pay for the cost of processing immigration benefit requests.
In 2015, USCIS conducted a comprehensive fee review and determined that the current Fee Schedule does not fully recover the costs of the services it provides. USCIS’ projected FY 2016/2017 total operating costs are expected to exceed projected total revenue; if USCIS continues to operate at current fee levels, it will experience an average annual shortfall of $560 million. It became clear that USCIS must adjust the current fee schedule to recover the full cost of processing immigration benefits and to continue to maintain or improve current service delivery standards.
Thus, on May 4, 2016, DHS published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register inviting public comment on a proposed adjustment in the USCIS Fee Schedule, which was last updated on Nov. 23, 2010. Specifically, DHS proposes to increase USCIS fees by a weighted average of 21 percent, but as evident in the following table, the fee increases for EB-5 applications are well beyond this number:
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