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DHS increases fees, including for CW-1 applications

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THE U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Friday announced a final rule that adjusts fees for certain immigration and naturalization benefit requests “to ensure U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recovers its costs of services.”

These include the CW-1 permit application fee, which will be increased to $695 from $460.

An applicant also pays a CNMI education funding fee of $200 per guest worker, as well as a “fraud prevention and detection fee” of $50 per petition.

Effective Oct 2, 2020, an employer applying for a CW-1 permit will pay a total of $945 instead of $710.

“Unlike most government agencies,” DHS said in a statement, “USCIS is fee funded. Fees collected and deposited into the Immigration Examinations Fee Account fund nearly 97% of USCIS’ budget.”

“This is going to be an additional burden for employers in the CNMI who have yet to recover from  severe losses due to government restrictions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” a human resources manager of a business establishment told Variety.

Society for Human Resource Management-NMI Chapter President Pina Magofna, for her part, said: “In addition to the touch-back provision, these new fees add to the financial burden for already struggling businesses dependent on retaining essential and skilled contact workers.”

She is referring to the provision in the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act of 2018 that requires foreign workers to “touch back” (or temporarily return to their country of origin — amid worldwide travel restrictions due to Covid-19.

“We hope that employers who intend and are able to retain essential contract workers are able to submit their petitions prior to the effectivity of these new fees,” Magofna said.

For his part, U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan said he has “joined 77 of my Democratic colleagues, urging House and Senate leaders to provide emergency funding for USCIS in the next coronavirus package. A direct appropriation may help keep fees from rising again. A direct appropriation in the next relief act will also keep USCIS from furloughing some 13,000 of its employees. That loss would delay processing of employment and family petitions and green card and refugee applications.”

See https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/08/03/2020-16389/us-citizenship-and-immigration-services-fee-schedule-and-changes-to-certain-other-immigration

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