Supreme Court Says TPS Is Not an Admission

On June 7, 2021, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled  that thousands of people living in the U.S. for humanitarian reasons under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) are ineligible to apply to become permanent residents.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the court that federal immigration law prohibits people who entered the country illegally and now have Temporary Protected Status from seeking “green cards” to remain in the country permanently.

The designation applies to people who come from countries ravaged by war or disaster. It protects them from deportation and allows them to work legally. There are 400,000 people from 12 countries with TPS status.

The outcome in a case involving a couple from El Salvador who have been in the U.S. since the 1990s turned on whether people who entered the country illegally and were given humanitarian protections were ever “admitted” into the United States under immigration law.

Kagan wrote that they were not. “The TPS program gives foreign nationals nonimmigrant status, but it does not admit them. So the conferral of TPS does not make an unlawful entrant…eligible” for a green card, she wrote.

The House of Representatives already has passed legislation that would make it possible for TPS recipients to become permanent residents, Kagan noted. The bill faces uncertain prospects in the Senate.

Federal courts around the country had come to conflicting decisions about whether the grant of TPS status was, by itself, enough to enable an immigrant to try to obtain permanent residency.

Former President Donald Trump tried to cancel the program for many immigrants, stoking fear they could be sent back to their homelands where they haven’t lived in many years.

This decision does not affect immigrants with TPS who initially entered the U.S. legally and then, say, overstayed their visa, Kagan noted. Because those people were legally admitted to the country and later were given humanitarian protections, they can seek to become permanent residents.

For more information on TPS,

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Copyright © 2021, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

What is Form I-9?

Form I-9 is used to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. All U.S. employers must properly complete Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and noncitizens. Both employees and employers (or authorized representatives of the employer) must complete the form.

On the form, an employee must attest to his or her employment authorization. The employee must also present his or her employer with acceptable documents evidencing identity and employment authorization. The employer must examine the employment eligibility and identity document(s) an employee presents to determine whether the document(s) reasonably appear to be genuine and to relate to the employee and record the document information on the Form I-9. The list of acceptable documents can be found on the last page of the form. Employers must retain Form I-9 for a designated period and make it available for inspection by authorized government officers.

Do not file Form I-9 with USCIS or U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Employers must:

  • Have a completed Form I-9 on file for each person on their payroll who is required to complete the form;
  • Retain and store Forms I-9 for three years after the date of hire, or for one year after employment is terminated, whichever is later; and
  • Make their forms available for inspection if requested by authorized U.S. government officials from the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Labor, or Department of Justice.

Do not complete Form I-9 for employees who are:

  • Employed for casual domestic work in a private home on a sporadic, irregular, or intermittent basis;
  • Independent contractors;
  • Employed by a contractor providing contract services (such as employee leasing or temporary agencies) and are providing labor to you; or
  • Not physically working on U.S. soil.

For more information on Form I-9,

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Copyright © 2021, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

Reuse Biometrics Notices from USCIS

In an effort to overcome huge delays in capturing biometrics of applicants, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will reuse biometrics previously submitted by applicants in order to process pending immigration applications.  Applicants who receive a notice stating that USCIS will reuse biometrics will NOT receive an appointment for fingerprints or photos.

Some applicants are waiting 8-9 months for a biometrics appointment post-COVID when the timeframe was 2-3 months pre-COVID.  The delay in scheduling appointments for biometrics (fingerprints and digital photo) is resulting in a delay in issuing work permits and other documents that require background checks.

Thousands of biometrics appointments were canceled during the coronavirus pandemic and USCIS said it would reschedule them once it normalized operations. But many applicants have yet to receive their rescheduled or new appointment, and their immigration processes have thus been delayed.

Approximately 1.3 million applications for immigration benefits are awaiting biometrics appointments as of mid-December 2020, the Department of Homeland Security agency said.  Roughly 280,000 immigrants saw their appointments canceled between March 2020 and June 2020.

The good news, though, is that given these challenges, when authorized by law, USCIS will reuse biometrics previously collected biometric data to conduct background and security checks — therefore some immigrants will be able to skip the biometrics appointment.

For more information on Reuse Biometrics Notices from USCIS,

text/call 407-292-7730 | whatsapp 407-353-1363 |email gail@gaillaw.com

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Copyright © 2021, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

India Travel Ban to U.S. and Options Entering & Leaving India

Effective May 4the entry into the United States of certain nonimmigrant travelers who have been physically present in India is suspended.  U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPR), and immigrants are not subject to the proclamation.  The suspension of entry also does not apply to non-U.S. citizen spouses or unmarried children under the age of 21 of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

** We encourage U.S. citizens who wish to depart India to take advantage of currently available commercial flights.  Airlines continue to operate multiple direct flights weekly from India to the United States.  Additional flight options remain available via transfers in Paris, Frankfurt, and Doha.  In general, the U.S. embassy and consulates in India may not assist U.S. citizens in finding commercial flights.  If your first choice of travel date is not available, please expand your search options.

*** Effective January 26, all incoming airline passengers to the United States aged two years and older must provide results of a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel.  Alternatively, travelers to the United States may provide documentation from a licensed healthcare provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel.

Country-Specific Information

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All Immigrants (legal or illegal) can get COVID vaccine

 

All persons, regardless of immigration status should and can get the COVID vaccine.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made this clear in a statement released on February 1, just as vaccine production was beginning to ramp up:

“DHS and its Federal government partners fully support equal access to the COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine distribution sites for undocumented immigrants. …DHS encourages all individuals, regardless of immigration status, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once eligible under local distribution guidelines.”

Though there have been some disinformation campaigns designed to scare undocumented immigrants out of getting the vaccine, people don’t need to be concerned. DHS went on to say that no enforcement operations would be conducted at or near vaccination distribution sites or clinics, consistent with the “sensitive locations” policy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines prohibits vaccination workers from turning people away for failure to produce specific identification documents or inquire about immigration status.  Also, the CDC has made the vaccine available to all people at no cost, meaning you can still get the COVID vaccine if you are uninsured or have no health insurance.

Ensuring immigrants get vaccinated is a priority—over 4 million work in essential services like health care and social service industries. And vaccinating the greatest amount of people will make everyone safer.

Getting the immigrant population vaccinated must be a priority, especially since many were left out of previous COVID-19 relief but were still relied upon to keep our economy moving. We have both a public health and moral obligation to ensure that everyone who wants a vaccine can get one safely and easily.

For more information on COVID vaccine for all immigrants,

text/call 407-292-7730 | whatsapp 407-353-1363 |email gail@gaillaw.com

FREE phone & in-office consultation – FREE Live Chat www.GailLaw.com

Copyright © 2021, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

Biden Immigration Bill

January 21, 2021 – President Biden laid out his vision for long overdue immigration reform. If passed into law, the Biden Immigration Bill would finally provide channels for millions of people who call this country home to validate their status. It is one step toward a more fair and just immigration system.

In addition, President Biden signed several immigration executive orders preserving DACA, ending the Muslim travel ban, ending border wall construction, halting deportation for 100 days and including immigrants in consensus.  These executive orders take effect immediately.

The Biden Immigration bill has not been introduced into Congress, has not been debated or voted on but is the step in the right direction.  Here are four key components you should know about Biden Immigration Bill:

1. An eight-year pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants.

The bill would provide a five-year path to permanent residence for all undocumented immigrants present in the United States on January 1, 2021, followed by a three-year wait for naturalization. Certain individuals with long-standing ties to the United States and previous vetting by the government would be expedited, including over 1 million people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status—in addition to agricultural workers.

2. Eliminating the three- and ten-year bars and expanding legal immigration.

Many immigrants who could have a chance to legalize their status may not be able to do so. This is because of penalties that prohibit green card applicants from returning to the U.S. for three or 10 years if they depart after being in the country unauthorized. And many of these people who qualify for green cards are required to apply from abroad.

The new bill will reverse these bars which prevent or delay many eligible family members from becoming lawful permanent residents—even if they are already in the United States.

3. Expanding existing immigration channels.

The bill will also make significant changes to the legal immigration system. It will recapture millions of previously unused visas to reduce green card backlogs, eliminate per-country caps on visas, and provide rapid paths to a green card for children and spouses of permanent residents. It will also prevent children of H-1B visa holders from “aging out” and being forced to leave the United States.

4. Untangling immigration enforcement from comprehensive solutions.

Since 2003, Congress has authorized over $330 billion on immigration enforcement—and the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents nearly doubled. Yet we have not seen Congress pass any measures to support immigrants in over 30 years despite having consistently expanded the enforcement system.

Biden Immigration Bill is different than previous efforts to pass a comprehensive bill because it is not directly tied to immigration enforcement measures, which have been the singular focus of immigration policy for years.

For more information on Biden Immigration Bill,

text/call 407-292-7730 | whatsapp 407-353-1363 |email gail@gaillaw.com

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Copyright © 2021, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

Green Card Holder Outside the U.S. During COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 global pandemic has been ongoing for close to one year and many countries have implemented inbound and outbound travel restrictions.  U.S. permanent residents and conditional permanent residents caught outside the United States due to COVID-19 are experiencing significant challenges in making return travel plans home to the United States. Certain period of absences from the United States can interrupt eligibility for U.S. citizenship as well as the ability to retain a permanent resident card (“green card”).

When a permanent resident or green card holder is seeking to return to the U.S. after a prolonged trip outside the U.S., they should not depend on the sympathy of a U.S. Custom and Border Protection officer to allow entry amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.  Our office recommends all green card holder outside the U.S. seeking re-entry to the U.S. to gather and present the following (if available and applicable) to a U.S. Custom and Border Protection officer:

  1. proof of filing U.S. income tax returns;
  2. proof of job or employment in the U.S.;
  3. proof of bank account in the U.S.;
  4. proof of lease ot home ownership in the U.S.;
  5. proof of spouse or children living in the U.S.;
  6. proof that departure from U.S. was temporary and had a returning ticket;
  7. proof that returning flight to the U.S. was canceled by airline;
  8. proof could not get outbound flight to the U.S.;
  9. proof that tested positive for COVID-19 and could not enter the U.S.; and
  10. any proof to rebut the presumption that might have abandoned their residence.

In the end, a permanent resident or green card holder is applying for admission to the United States and the officer has the power to confiscate a green card at the airport/point of entry and referred the green card holder to a hearing before an immigration judge.  If the green card holder outside the U.S. has been absent from the U.S. for greater than one year, then they have abandoned their residency under the law and may have to seek permission to the return to the U.S. through the U.S. Embassy abroad.

For more information on green card holder outside the U.S.,

text/call 407-292-7730 | whatsapp 407-353-1363 |email gail@gaillaw.com

FREE phone & in-office consultation – FREE Live Chat www.GailLaw.com

Copyright © 2020, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

Form I-944 & Public Charge Rule Expansion

UPDATED: 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an administrative stay of the decision of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (noted below) meaning adjustment of status applications MUST be filed with the Form I-944. We will continue to monitor the situation.

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On November 1, 2020, the U.S. District Court in Cook County, Illinois, et al v. Wolf et. al., (19-cv-6334),  granted summary judgment in favor of  Plaintiffs on their  claim that the Department of Homeland Security’s Public Charge Rule, 84 Fed. Reg. 41,292 (Aug. 14, 2019) violates the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. § 701 et. seq.  The district court specifically ruled that (1) the public charge  exceeds DHS’s authority under the public charge provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(4)(A); (2) is not in accordance with law; and (3) is arbitrary and capricious.

Therefore, the court  immediately set aside  the DHS Public Charge Rule nationwide without staying its decision pending appealmeaning that DHS may not apply the public charge rule as of today, which includes the submission of Form I-944 and the information contained therein.

For more information on public charge rule

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Copyright © 2020, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

Immigration Denial and Discretion

It is common for our office to hear, ” I was denied and I don’t understand why I was denied.”  In the U.S. immigration system, officers have a wide array of “discretion” when making decisions to approve or deny an immigration benefit.

Discretion is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as, “individual choice or judgment.”  So, an immigration officer’s discretion means that officers individual choice or judgment.  Sometimes the officer’s individual choice or judgment is based on facts presented, evidence presented, case law, statutory rules or just his/her gut feeling at the time.

Immigration officers have discretionary judgment when deciding whether to issue a B-1/B-2 visas or any non-immigrant visa after an U.S. Embassy interview.  Unfortunately, officer’s discretionary decision on B-1/B-2 visas and other non-immigrant visas are not appealable.

The following immigration benefits also require the use of officer discretion in deciding whether to approve or deny an applicant: permanent residency (a green card), asylum, extension of stay, waiver of inadmissibility, temporary protected status, fiancé petition, and employment-based petitions.

There is no exhaustive list of factors that an immigration officers must consider. To perform a discretionary analysis, officers must weigh all positive factors present in a case against any negative factors in the totality of the record. There is no formula for determining the weight to be given a specific positive or negative factor.  The analysis must be comprehensive, specific to the case, and based on all relevant facts known at the time of adjudication. The officer may not exercise discretion arbitrarily, inconsistently, or in reliance on biases or assumptions.

January 23, 2020, the Federal Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a decision warning U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of demanding excessive proof of eligibility that goes beyond the standard of proof required by precedent. (Baez-Sanchez v. Barr, No. 19-1642 (7th Cir. 2020).  It is well established that in visa petition proceedings, the petitioner bears the burden of proving eligibility by a “preponderance of the evidence.” Thus, even if the director has some doubt as to the truth, if the petitioner submits relevant, probative, and credible evidence that leads the director to believe that the claim is “probably true” or “more likely than not,” the applicant or petitioner has satisfied the standard of proof. See U.S. v. Cardozo-Fonseca, 480 U.S. 421 (1987).

So, where a denial can be appealed or challenged, contact legal counsel and exercise your right to contest the abuse of discretion by immigration officers.

For more information on Immigration Denial and Discretion,

text/call 407-292-7730 | whatsapp 407-353-1363 |email gail@gaillaw.com

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Copyright © 2020, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

Fee Increase October 2, 2020

On December 28, 2020, the U.S.Federal Court permanently enjoined, blocked or prevented the USCIS fee increase discussed below.

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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced an astronomical 80% fee increase on cost to become a U.S. citizen, obtain a green card and other immigration services. This filing fee increase could make the legal immigration system inaccessible to millions of people.  The increased filing fees will become effective on October 2, 2020.

Adjustment of Status

When filing for adjustment of status in the U.S. or a green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, the total filing fees are $1760.  The fee increase will charge an extra $1,150 bringing the new cost of obtaining a green card to $2,910.

Naturalization/Citizenship

USCIS increased the total cost of a naturalization application or becoming a U.S. citizen by over 80%.  Online naturalization applications will now run $1,170, up from the previous price of $640. USCIS says the new fee will cover the full cost to process the application as well as some overhead costs.  Say good-bye to fee waivers as USCIS is also eliminating almost all fee waivers that it previously provided for low-income immigrants seeking citizenship.

H-1B

Filing fees for employers petitioning for an H-1B worker will increase by 70%. The cost to petition for one worker will total over $3,000. The agency is also increasing the time it takes to process H-1B visas. Employers who pay for “premium processing” of their petitions will now have to wait almost twice as long to receive a decision.

Fee for Asylum Applications

USCIS will now charge a $50 fee to apply for asylum. This will be the first time the United States has charged a fee since WWII. This makes the United States only the fourth country in the world to charge a fee for asylum applications. Iran, Fiji, and Australia also charge a fee.  USCIS also refused to provide any fee waivers for this expense.

USCIS’ History of Financial Mismanagement

USCIS has furlough two-thirds of its staff and has enormous budget shortfalls.  The agency claims that the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent office closures wiped out most of the fee-based agency’s revenue.  But USCIS has long suffered from fiscal mismanagement. In reality, the fee hikes represent the culmination of years’ worth of financial recklessness and poor policy changes. These issues have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. The published rule, however, says the agency did not take COVID-19 into consideration when determining the new fees.

Immigration Benefit/Forms Current Fee Final Fee Change ($) Percent Change
I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (online filing) $455 $405 -$50 -11 percent
I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (paper filing) $455 $415 -$40 -9 percent
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document $445 $485 $40 9 percent
I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant worker $460 N/A N/A N/A
I-129CW, I-129E&TN, and I-129MISC $460 $695 $235 51 percent
I-129H1 $460 $555 $95 21 percent
I-129H2A – Named Beneficiaries $460 $850 $390 85 percent
I-129H2B – Named Beneficiaries $460 $715 $255 55 percent
I-129L $460 $805 $345 75 percent
I-129O $460 $705 $245 53 percent
I-129H2A – Unnamed Beneficiaries $460 $415 -$45 -10 percent
I-129H2B – Unnamed Beneficiaries $460 $385 -$75 -16 percent
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) $535 $510 -$25 -5 percent
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative (online filing) $535 $550 $15 3 percent
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative (paper filing) $535 $560 $25 5 percent
I-131 Application for Travel Document $575 $590 $15 3 percent
I-131 Refugee Travel Document for an individual age 16 or older $135 $145 $10 7 percent
I-131 Refugee Travel Document for a child under the age of 16 $105 $115 $10 10 percent
I-131A Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation) $575 $1,010 $435 76 percent
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker $700 $555 -$145 -21 percent
I-191 Application for Relief Under Former Section 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) $930 $790 -$140 -15 percent
I-192 Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant (CBP) $585 $1,400 $815 139 percent
I-192 Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant (USCIS) $930 $1,400 $470 51 percent
I-193 Application for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa $585 $2,790 $2,205 377 percent
I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the U.S. After Deportation or Removal $930 $1,050 $120 13 percent
I-290B Notice of Appeal or Motion $675 $700 $25 4 percent
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant $435 $450 $15 3 percent
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence $1,140 $1,130 -$10 -1 percent
I-485 Application to Adjust Status $750 $1,130 $380 51 percent
I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor $3,675 $4,010 $335 9 percent
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (online filing) $370 $390 $20 5 percent
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (paper filing) $370 $400 $30 8 percent
I-589 Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal $0 $50 $50 N/A
I-600/600A Adoption Petitions and Applications $775 $805 $30 4 percent
I-600A Supplement 3 Request for Action on Approved Form I-600A N/A $400 N/A N/A
I-601 Application for Waiver of Ground of Excludability $930 $1,010 $80 9 percent
I-601A Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver $630 $960 $330 52 percent
I-612 Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement (Under Section 212(e) of the INA, as Amended) $930 $515 -$415 -45 percent
I-687 Application for Status as a Temporary Resident $1,130 $1,130 $0 0 percent
I-690 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility $715 $765 $50 7 percent
I-694 Notice of Appeal of Decision $890 $715 -$175 -20 percent
I-698 Application to Adjust Status from Temporary to Permanent Resident (Under Section 245A of the INA) $1,670 $1,615 -$55 -3 percent
I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence $595 $760 $165 28 percent
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization (Non-DACA) $410 $550 $140 34 percent
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization (DACA only) $410 $410 $0 0 percent
I-800/800A Adoption Petitions and Applications $775 $805 $30 4 percent
I-800A Supplement 3 Request for Action on Approved Form I-800A $385 $400 $15 4 percent
I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits $600 $590 -$10 -2 percent
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition $465 $495 $30 6 percent
I-829 Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions $3,750 $3,900 $150 4 percent
I-881 Application for Suspension of Deportation $285 $1,810 $1,525 535 percent
I-881 Application for Special Rule Cancellation of Removal $570 $1,810 $1,240 218 percent
I-910 Application for Civil Surgeon Designation $785 $635 -$150 -19 percent
I-924 Application For Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program $17,795 $17,795 $0 0 percent
I-924A Annual Certification of Regional Center $3,035 $4,465 $1,430 47 percent
I-929 Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigran $230 $1,485 $1,255 546 percent
N-300 Application to File Declaration of Intention $270 $1,305 $1,035 383 percent
N-336 Request for Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (online filing) $700 $1,725 $1,025 146 percent
N-336 Request for Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (paper filing) $700 $1,735 $1,035 148 percent
N-400 Application for Naturalization (online filing) $640 $1,160 $520 81 percent
N-400 Application for Naturalization (paper filing) $640 $1,170 $530 83 percent
N-400 Application for Naturalization (paper filing) $320 $1,170 $850 266 percent
N-470 Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes $355 $1,585 $1,230 346 percent
N-565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document (online filing) $555 $535 -$20 -4 percent
N-565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document (paper filing) $555 $545 -$10 -2 percent
N-600 Application for Certificate of Citizenship (online filing) $1,170 $990 -$180 -15 percent
N-600 Application for Certificate of Citizenship (paper filing) $1,170 $1,000 -$170 -15 percent
N-600K Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate (online filing) $1,170 $935 -$235 -20 percent
N-600K Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate (paper filing) $1,170 $945 -$225 -19 percent
USCIS Immigrant Fee $220 $190 -$30 -14 percent
Biometric Services (Non-DACA) $85 $30 -$55 -65 percent
Biometric Services (DACA only) $85 $85 $0 0 percent
G-1041 Genealogy Index Search Request (online filing) $65 $160 $95 146 percent
G-1041 Genealogy Index Search Request (paper filing) $65 $170 $105 162 percent
G-1041A Genealogy Records Request (online filing) $65 $255 $190 292 percent
G-1041A Genealogy Records Request (paper filing) $65 $265 $200 308 percent

For more information on USCIS Fee Increase,

text/call 407-292-7730 | whatsapp 407-353-1363 |email gail@gaillaw.com

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Copyright © 2020, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.