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Easier US immigration filing fees urged

First Posted 17:10:00 06/30/2009

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MANILA, Philippines?The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has released a list of recommendations that would make it easier to pay USCIS filing fees and other costs.

Among the recommendations approved by Michael Aytes, USCIS acting deputy director, are: the batch filing system that would allow high volume filers to pay USCIS fees online; an online shopping cart mechanism; an expansion of payment options within the e-filing system to include all USCIS fees; and information aids to ensure that payments are submitted correctly.

Some of these measures, however, can not yet be immediately implemented as the infrastructure has yet to be set for them.

USCIS is considered a ?pay-for-service? government agency where petitioners pay for the provision of a particular service. However, the current system, which accepts money orders or checks, has manifested flaws, which, is some cases, have resulted in denial of payment of legitimate petitioners.

The USCIS said that the batch filing system would benefit high volume filers, but said that it does not yet have the technological capabilities to do this. In November 28, it asked a private firm, IBM Solution, to come up with a way to provide multiple channels for high volume filers to submit benefit requests, including traditional paper applications through a lockbox, a customer portal, kiosks at USCIS offices, and electronic submissions for batch submission.

?Although these operational enhancements will be implemented incrementally, we anticipate the batch filing to be deployed early during the life span of the contract,? said USCIS.

It said it also plans to have an ?online shopping cart,? which was described by IBM as a ?filing wizard,? where customers will immediately get feedback to resolve shortfalls in their benefit requests and find alternative benefits for which the petitioner is eligible. The USCIS said it expects this to be available by 2010.

USCIS will also deploy Paper Check Conversion and Credit Card Readers at all Field Offices to allow electronic deposit of funds through the Federal Reserve to US Treasury Department accounts.

?This functionality will enhance USCIS? ability to process payments more quickly and we believe that our customers will find this option more convenient,? it said.

It also plans to expand the electronic payment filing that would be advantageous to applicants, petitioners, and their representatives. More information materials would also be released with instructions to ensure that payments are submitted correctly.

The USCIS fee schedule can be found here.

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