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The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in January 2023, proposing adjustments to immigration and naturalization benefit request fees. The proposed fee increase is a result of USCIS’ thorough examination, which revealed that the current fee structure is inadequate to cover the agency’s operational costs. Notably, the EB-5 program experiences a significant filing fee surge, with the I-526E form fee rising by 204% from $3,675 to $11,160. The agency has decided to postpone its publication of a final rule until 2024.

Reasoning Behind the Fee Hike

According to USCIS, “Under the ability-to-pay principle, those who are more capable of bearing the burden of fees should pay more for a service than those with less ability to pay. The requirements of immigrant investor program indicate that immigrant investors and regional centers have the ability-to-pay more than most USCIS customers. In addition, compared to the amount of capital required and the required investment levels for an immigrant investor, the amount of the USCIS fees are an insignificant amount.”

Additionally, under the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 (EB-5 RIA 2022), which was signed into law by President Biden back in March of 2022, USCIS is required to conduct a study of fees charged no later than 1 year after the enactment of this Act, and make adjustment of these fees to achieve efficient processing. 

Positive Impact From the Fee Hike

Under the EB-5 RIA 2022, USCIS must also aim to adjudicate applications in a timely manner. By increasing the filing fees and hiring more adjudicators, we hope that the agency will also be able to improve their efficiency and shorten the processing time, especially for investors from China and India who are facing retrogression. USCIS have started taken steps into expanding their workforce, hire more adjudicators to increase processing efficiency. Many of our investors who filed concurrently in the U.S. for adjustment of status have received their EAD card within only 3-5 months (expected processing time for EAD card is 3-5 months), and Advance Parole within only 6 months (expected processing time for AP is 8-14 months).

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