Trying to reduce the number of immigration applications rejected because of incorrect payments, the U.S. government launched a digital tool Tuesday that helps immigrants and foreign aliens figure out exactly what they owe for filing fees.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) unveiled an online fee calculator that will tally the correct amount to be paid for each form, such as for employment authorization, travel documents, naturalization and petitions for relatives or to remove conditions on residence.
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A USCIS news release said incorrect fees attached to these applications was “a leading cause” for rejecting immigration applications. In 2017, the last full year of data available, USCIS processed more than 11 million applications.
“USCIS launched an Online Fee Calculator to assist applicants, petitioners, and requestors determine the exact filing and biometric fees to help reduce the number of rejected applications due to incorrect filing fees,” Dan Hetlage, a USCIS spokesman, said to el Nuevo Herald in a statement.
“Ultimately, it is our hope that this new tool will help facilitate greater certainty, stronger confidence, and a more seamless filing process for those seeking immigration benefits through USCIS,” he noted.
The calculator will be able to determine the exact filing fees for any forms processed at USCIS lockbox facilities.
Depending on the type of paperwork, applicants can pay the fees online, by mail or in person at a USCIS field office. The government now accepts credit cards for payment of 41 fee-based forms without additional charges.
The USCIS release said immigrants and foreigners who use the new tool will be able to select the form or forms they need and then respond to a series of questions related to the forms they chose. The calculator will then determine the fee owed.
The calculator will protect the privacy of the applicants because it will not retain the personal information gathered during the process, the agency said.
The calculator’s launch comes at a time when USCIS is improving several tools available on their website, which contains a variety forms for immigration benefits and other requests.
In an effort to simplify access to online data, the federal agency consolidated data pages in November that offers users fast and easy access to information about their own cases and fosters “a more informed and accurate understanding of our complex immigration system,” USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna said in a statement at the time.
USCIS has been also modernizing its business process and plans to go paperless by 2020. Immigrants applying for benefits such as American citizenship or a green card replacement for permanent residency, can now apply online.
“Filing online helps applicants and petitioners by making the process more efficient,” a USCIS spokesperson told el Nuevo Herald in December. “It streamlines the adjudication process, making it easier for USCIS to share files with inter agency partners, communicate with applicants and petitioners, obtain more efficient responses to requests for evidence, and make decisions.”
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