Arizona employers are coming closer to being forced to use a maligned federal government database to verify the work eligibility of all hires or risk their business licenses under a controversial new state law.
In the wake of Congress’ failed comprehensive immigration reform bill effort, states increasingly have been tackling these issues locally, resulting in a patchwork of divergent laws across the country.
These state regulations cover a variety of areas targeting both undocumented foreign nationals and the employers who hire them. The approaches vary greatly, some friendly, some hostile. Many end up as the subject of lawsuits, their legality under federal or state law being questioned.
For example, Arizona now requires all employers to use the controversial “E-Verify” system to check an employee’s legal status, while a new Illinois law prohibits employers from using “E-Verify” until the U.S. government proves it is 99 percent accurate. Both laws are under attack in court.
Stateline.org has compiled a comprehensive summary of state laws touching on immigrants and immigration issues, including employer sanctions, access to public benefits, in-state tuition, driver’s licenses, and local law enforcement collaboration with federal immigration authorities. (A state-by-state chart is also available on the site.)
The article observes that the harshest laws are coming out of states which only recently began experiencing an influx of immigrants, whereas states that have a history of immigration are generating laws that are more accommodating.
Immigration is an area that normally falls under the responsibility of the federal government to regulate, not the states.
For more information, see our other article providing a related round-up of state legislation relating to immigration and immigrants: Survey Shows State Legislation Relating to Immigration Skyrockets in 2007.
Starting January 1, 2008, the application fee for a U.S. non-immigrant visa will increase from $100 to $131, the Department of State has announced.
Applicants who pay the prior $100 application fee before January 1 will be processed only if they are scheduled and appear for a visa interview at the consulate before January 31.
Applicants who have already paid the $100 application fee and appear for visa interviews after January 31, 2008 must pay the difference of $31 before they will be interviewed by the consular officer.
This increase applies both to non-immigrant visas issued on machine-readable foils in passports and to border crossing cards issued to certain applicants in Mexico.
DOS explains that the fee increase will allow the government to recover the costs of security and other enhancements to the non-immigrant visa application process.
The Department is required by law to attempt to recover the cost of processing non-immigrant visas through the collection of the Machine-Readable Visa application fee.
Because of new security-related costs, new information technology systems, and inflation, the $100 Machine-Readable Visa fee is lower than the actual cost of processing non-immigrant visas.
DOS said that a review in 2004 revealed that the $100 fee is lower than the cost of processing non-immigrant visas and the Department has been absorbing the additional cost.
Part of these cost increases are attributed to the new 10-fingerprint collection system. These fingerprints must be reviewed by the FBI and the cost for doing so is charged to DOS.
The application fee has increased twice since September 11, 2001, the last time in 2002.
Consular immigrant and nonimmigrant visa fees will increase in January 2008, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).
AILA learned that as early as this week the Department of State (DOS) will publish the fee increases in the Federal Register with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2008. Nonimmigrant visa fees reportedly will rise from $100 to $131 and immigrant visa fees will go up by $20.
Some pre-paid visa fees may be grandfathered, but the details will not be known until they appear in the Federal Register notice.
AILA says the increase and its suddenness result from the FBI’s success in obtaining approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to charge DOS almost $20 per fingerprint for records clearance. Other justifications for the $31 nonimmigrant visa fee increase include the costs of systems that have already been in place.