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New immigrants may have to pay new fee

USCIS says new immigrants will have to pay an added fee when applying for permanent residency.

Between bills, gasoline, utility expenses and having to send money overseas, immigrants have no shortage of payments to take care of. And for those who are interested in coming to the U.S. after spending most of their life in another country, they may have another fee to consider on top of everything else.

According to a new ruling by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the government agency will begin to collect an immigrant fee for all foreign nationals who wish to move to the U.S. permanently. Starting on February 1, 2013, all new immigrants will have to pay a flat fee of $165.

Though the additional cost likely comes as bad news for individuals who have limited means, the USCIS says that the fee is needed. Since September 2010, when the decision was first made to implement the fee hike, immigration officials say they've worked closely with the Department of State to try to keep the rate as low as possible. The fee was necessary, though, noting that it will allow USCIS to better recover the costs of processing immigrant visas, which individuals first receive from the State Department.

In today's day and age, there are a variety of ways in which fees can be paid for, whether it's through cash, check, money order, credit card, debit card, Paypal or some other online payment system. USCIS indicates that it wants to make the payment process as streamlined as possible. Thus, new immigrants who've recently obtained their visa information will need to pay the fee online through the USCIS website. They should ensure, however, that this expense is taken care of prior to their arriving in the U.S.

If new arrivals have other questions about the payment process and how it works, they are encouraged to ask the person that interviews them prior to receiving their visa.

Immigrants very familiar with fees
Some people who oppose looser immigration laws indicate that foreign nationals don't pay their fair share in expenses when it comes to living in the U.S. But a reviewal of all the fees that are associated with moving to the country suggests otherwise.

According to numbers from the Department of State, visas alone are fairly expensive, especially for someone who may not have a steady job.

For example, depending on the type of visa that's purchased and the person for whom its issued, visas can cost between $160 and $190. And if immigrants want their spouse or fiancee to join them, they may have to spend another $240 on top of that.

Then there are the fees to consider just to cross the border. A border crossing card for individuals 15 years of age and older runs about $160. And that's not the only time they'll have to spend that amount. Border cards are valid for 10 years, so they may have to get it renewed when it expires.

Then there is the cost of deferred action for childhood arrivals program. Announced in June, this program enables certain unauthorized immigrants to be eligible to work in the U.S. without having to worry about being deported. While eligibility may ultimately wind up saving immigrants a lot of money by enabling them to work, it isn't without it's upfront costs. The application alone costs $465, most of which is to take care of the processing expense.

Those who have made the pilgrimage to the U.S. would likely argue that it's all worth it, though, as the rights and privileges in America can help themselves and their families thrive.

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