$10,000 Required For Earned Legalization and Adjustment Under the Secure Borders, Employment Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act

By Alan Lee, Esq.

One of the especially troubling aspects of S. 1348 (Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Reform Act of 2007) is still the incredible amount of monies that applicants will have to pay for their "Z" visas and their subsequent adjustments of status to permanent residence. In contrast to the much reviled White House proposal of March 28, 2007, the current bill being debated reduces the amounts significantly, but nowhere near the range that the Administration would have the public believe in its recent myth buster releases of Z visa holders paying $1,000 fine to obtain the Z visa and $4,000 fine to adjust status to permanent residence.

As far as we can see, there are seven categories of payment as listed below:

1. Processing fee for each Z visa applicant

2. Z-1 penalty fee

3. Z-1 state impact assistance fee

4. Z-2 /Z-3 penalty fee for each dependent

5. Extension fee for each Z visa holder

6. Z-1 penalty fee to adjust status to permanent residence

7. Filing fees to Department of State and to Department of Homeland Security to adjust status to permanent residence

Following the seven points in looking over the White House proposal of March 28, 2007, each Z visa holder's processing fee was $1,500; the penalty fee of $2,000 would have been assessed to each Z visa holder; a portion of the $2000 fine for initial application and extensions would be shared with localities as a state impact assistance fee; the dependent Z penalty would have been $2,000 (see above); extensions for each Z visa holder would have cost $2,000 fine and $1,500 processing fee every three years; and each Z visa holder would have paid a $10,000 fine to adjust to permanent residence. Filing fees to adjust status were not mentioned although there is no reason to believe that such would not have been assessed. Just looking over these figures, we calculated that a family of four even without considering the regular application fees for adjustment of status would have spent at least $82,000 in government fees alone (assuming that only two extensions were needed). These figures would not include the costs of having to leave the United States and adjusting status in the applicants' home countries.

The current legislation reduces the amount from the astronomical to the highly expensive in that the Z application processing fee (for each family member) will be approximately $1,500; the Z-1 penalty $1,000; the Z-1 state impact assistance fee $500; Z-2 /Z-3 penalty fee for each dependent $500; each Z holder's extension processing fee approximately $1,500; and the penalty fee of $4,000 assessed for the Z-1 to adjust status to permanent residence. No mention is made of the amount of filing fees to be paid to the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security although there is provision for such. In our calculations taking into account that each Z visa period will now cover four years and two extensions likely to be needed since most estimates quote 8-13 years as a period of time before Z visa holders will begin to obtain permanent residence, a single Z visa holder will spend at least $10,000 in government fees alone, and a family of four at least $25,000. These figures do not take into account the costs of having to leave the United States in adjusting status in the applicants' home countries, filing fees for adjustment of status to be paid to the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security or any other expenses which may have been hidden or missed by us in our calculations.

In reading the newspapers this past week, we believe that potential applicants should know the real cost of this earned legalization, especially as many have the impression that they will have to come up with only $5,000 to obtain their green cards, and even then have expressed anguish at the prospect of having to take extraordinary measures to raise that amount of money. The White House has been disingenuous thus far in discussing the true fees and penalties that must be raised by this group of individuals and they should have the opportunity to have their supporters talk to members of Congress to request that the amounts be further reduced.


The author is a 26+ year practitioner of immigration law based in New York City. He was awarded the Sidney A. Levine prize for best legal writing at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 1977 and has written extensively on immigration over the past years for the ethnic newspapers, World Journal, Sing Tao, Pakistan Calling, Muhasha and OCS. He has testified as an expert on immigration in civil court proceedings and was recognized by the Taiwan government in 1985 for his work protecting human rights. His article, "The Bush Temporary Worker Proposal and Comparative Pending Legislation: an Analysis" was Interpreter Releases' cover display article at the American Immigration Lawyers Association annual conference in 2004, and his victory in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in a case of first impression nationwide, Firstland International v. INS, successfully challenged INS' policy of over 40 years of revoking approved immigrant visa petitions under a nebulous standard of proof. Its value as precedent, however, was short-lived as it was specifically targeted by the Administration in the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004.

This article 2007 Alan Lee, Esq.

 

Copyright © 2003-2012 Alan Lee, Esq.
The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any particular set of facts or circumstances. It should not be construed as legal advice and does not constitute an engagement of the Law Office of Alan Lee or establish an attorney-client relationship.