If you submit an immigration petition to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you almost always pay a fee. Paying a fee may seem pretty straight forward, but there are still small mistakes that can slow down, or in cases with deadlines, thwart your immigration application. You’ll need to ensure that you pay the correct fee. I recommend that clients pay by check or money order, not by credit card.
Ensure Your Fee Total is Correct
To determine how much you need to pay, you shouldn’t rely on anything other than official USCIS publications. The day that I file any form, I go to the USCIS forms page, open the form or forms that I am filing, and check the filing fees. The filing fees are listed on drop down menus on each form’s pages. However, you should also read the instructions (a PDF document) available for all forms. Sometimes the drop-down menu “Fees” does give you information about when you do not need to pay a fee. There is also a USCIS fee calculator at https://www.uscis.gov/feecalculator.
Why Pay By Check and When Will USCIS Cash my Check?
When paying USCIS, never send cash through the mail. Also, even though USCIS accepts credit card payments for many (not all!) forms, I prefer that my clients pay by check. I have noticed that even when I submit the correct credit card information, USCIS sometimes rejects the application and claims that the credit card information is incorrect. I think that a USCIS agent types the credit card information from Form 1450, and if the agent types incorrectly, the form gets rejected. Checks, on the other hand, are electronically deposited, without the possibility of an agent mistyping the check’s information. After you file an application and send your check, look at your online bank statement every day or so to see when the check is cashed by USCIS. USCIS will usually cash the check in two days to two weeks after you file the application.
How Do I Pay By Check?
When you do pay your fees by check, you will still need to ensure that you have the correct filing fee amount on the check and you must make the check out to US Department of Homeland Security. On the “Pay to the Order” line, write “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” Do not use DHS or USDHS. Include numerals to indicate the amount of the check, such as $452.50. You should also spell out the digits on the correct line, such as “four hundred fifty-two and 50/100.” In the memo line, write a short description of your payment and include the applicant’s name, such as “John D. Smith, N-400 application and biometric services fee.”Sign the check with your legal name. Paperclip or staple your check to the upper left-hand corner of your application form.
Keep A Photocopy of the Check (and the REST of your application)
When you file an application, keep a photocopy of every single page that you submit from mailing page (send by a mail service that you can track), your covr page (if any), the check, passport style photos, all pages of the application, and ALL supporting documents.
Wherever you are in your immigration process, it is a good idea to consult an experienced immigration law attorney before filing anything with the USCIS. Ellen Sullivan, P.C. has helped clients around the world and is ready to work with you. Call (617) 714-4375 or email email@example.com to get in touch.