INS Lowers Application Fees
Jan. 24, 2003
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Immigration and Naturalization Service lowered application fees Friday for various benefits, including citizenship, under a law that prohibits the agency from paying for asylum and refugee services with fee money.
The fees were lowered to remove surcharges tacked on to cover the costs of asylum and refugee services. The reductions were good news for applicants, who have paid, for instance, $260 for naturalization; $460 for international adoption; $255 for permanent residence, or a ``green card''; and $120 for a work permit.
The reductions also mean the INS will have to find other ways to pay for the application and adjudication costs of people seeking asylum or wanting to enter the country as refugees.
Congress prohibited INS from assessing the additional fees in legislation that created the Department of Homeland Security. Immigration advocates had fought for the prohibition but had expected Congress also to provide money from the Treasury to pay for the services.
Either by accident or intentionally, the separate appropriation wasn't provided, and the prohibition on surcharges remained in the law.
Immigration advocates had feared the lowered fees would mean processing of asylum and refugee applications would end, but an INS spokesman said the work would continue.
``We never intended to stop accepting and processing asylum or refugee applications,'' said Bill Strassberger, INS spokesman. ``We are working with Congress to determine how this will be funded.''
On the Net:
Immigration and Naturalization Service fee schedule: http://www.ins.gov/graphics/lawsregs/whatsnew.htm