Thursday, May 26, 2016

Possible Increase in Immigration Fees by USCIS and Foreign Passport Problems under the Visa Waiver Program

On May 4, 2016  USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service) published a notice to raise most of the government immigration filing fees by more than $100. There is a 60 day public comment period for anyone from the public to comment on the proposed increase in fees. It is very possible that the fees could increase sometime after the summer. Those of you planning to file immigration paper work may want to think about filing as soon as you can to avoid the possible increase.

In regard to the VWP (Visa Waiver Program) there is a new requirement that you must travel with your country's new e-passport. The new e-passport is a new Electronic Passport with an electronic chip in it. Generally any person coming to the U.S. to visit with an older passport will not be allowed to enter the United States with just their foreign passport. Summer is here and I have already talked to some people affected by this problem. If you are planning a visit to the U.S., please make sure that you have your country's latest electronic passport. If you currently have an older passport now is the time to have it renewed in your country. As a reminder the VWP Countries currently are Australia, Iceland, Portugal, Austria, Ireland, San Marino, Belgium, Italy, Singapore, Brunei, Japan, Slovakia, Chile, Latvia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Liechtenstein, South Korea, Denmark, Lithuania, Spain, Estonia, Luxembourg, Sweden, Finland, Malta, Switzerland, France, Monaco, Taiwan (Considered as separate country for the VWP), Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom (must have unrestricted right of permanent abode in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man), Greece, New Zealand. Please also keep in mind that generally even if you have a passport from a Visa Waiver Country, you may not enter the U.S. with just your foreign passport (there are some exceptions) if you have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011. Also, please keep in mind if you also have a current passport from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria in addition to your Visa Waiver Country Passport, you may not enter the U.S. with just your foreign passport (there are some exceptions). Those of you that do not qualify to enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program will have to apply for a Visa with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate near you and have the Visa Application approved and the U.S. Visa issued to you before you can enter the United States

Lastly, as always when planning on coming to the U.S. it is always best to be prepared well in advance to avoid delays or rejection of your application. Contact a licensed Immigration attorney to get help if you have questions or your situation is unclear so you can travel free from worry.
Please contact a licensed Immigration attorney before you act on your specific situation. Immigration Laws and Federal Regulations are constantly changing and the general information provided can change over time.

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