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Lawsuit filed in US court challenging visa fee hikes for EB-5 investors and asylum fee charges

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MUMBAI: A lawsuit has been filed in a US district court challenging the visa fee hikes that are set to come into effect from April 1.
As TOI had pointed out earlier, the biggest fee increases announced by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) were for EB-5 investors – under the investment-linked green card program, The investors will now pay $11,160 for their initial I-526 petitions -a hike of 204%, and $9,535 for their I-829 application to remove conditions on permanent resident status, which is a hike of 154%
Under the EB-5 program once the initial application is processed, and the consulate interview or adjustment of status (if the investor is in US) is complied with, a conditional green card with a validity of two years is available.Later, an application has to be filed to ‘remove the conditions’ and get a permanent green card. Fees at all stages have been hiked.
Further, the revised fee structure also includes an additional $600 Asylum Program Fee that will be charged for each Form I-129 (initial visa application for nonimmigrant worker) and Form I-140 (application for employment based green card). Nonprofit petitioners will be exempt from the new fee while small employers will be subject to a reduced fee of $300.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the ITServe Alliance (a group that represents over 2,000 small and medium sized IT companies many of whom have Indian origin founders); the American Immigrant Investor Alliance (a non-profit advocacy group for EB-5 investors), and a Canadian EB-5 investor. They have sought a preliminary injunction to stop the planned fee increases.
Represented by attorneys Jonathan Wasden, Jesse Bless and Matthew Galati, the lawsuit states:
·The fee rule was promulgated without following proper rule making procedures;
·The fee rule doubles immigrant investor fees through the EB-5 program in violation of law. Specifically, the USCIS imposed new fees on immigrant investors and regional centers without completing the fee study that Congress required as part of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022; and
·The asylum-related fee ‘arbitrarily and without legal justification’’ shifts the burden to certain employers to fund the government’s handling of asylum cases.
In addition to seeking a preliminary injunction, the plaintiffs have sought that the final rule (which hiked the fees) should be declared unlawful and invalid and sought a stay against its enforcement.

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