To help ease the immigration problem in US and its looming economy, the United States are planning to raise the price of immigration-related fees.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) director Alejandro Mayorkas said that the United States could raise the price of immigration-related fees as it battles a budget shortfall spurred by the global financial meltdown.
Mayorkas added that the USCIS is considering hiking fees, reducing expenditures or seeking help from Congress its financial problems.
"We will, as an agency, potentially have to make cuts, and we will, potentially, have to raise certain fees to meet the financial challenge brought about by a decline in revenue," Mayorkas said.
Immigration-related applications have dropped "markedly" over the past year amid the economic downturn, and are behind the agency's revenue decline, he said.
USCIS was flooded with applications in 2007 ahead of last year's US presidential elections and an increase in citizenship fees from USD400 to USD675.
A record 7.7 million immigration applications were registered in 2007.
The increased was explained by USCIS spokesperson Bill Wright, "People wanted to become naturalized so they could vote."
The number of filings dropped after the price hike.
The agency had initially forecast it would collect 2.33 billion dollars in fees for the fiscal year that ended on September 30, but it fell short by 345 million dollars.
Mayorkas insisted the agency's financial travails would not hamper its work, pointing to "improved performance" over the past two years.
"We well understand and are incredibly sensitive to the impact of raising fees for individuals, many of whom cannot afford the cost of pursuing a benefit to which they may be entitled," he added.
The agency chief declined to quantify the fee increase currently being considered as part of a review, although he noted that not all services would necessarily be affected.
Immigration officials have requested 206 million dollars for fee structure reform.
A bill hashed out between both houses of Congress and now awaiting President Barack Obama's signature only funded $55 million of that request.