The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is rocketing into the fairly new century by expanding its acceptance of credit card payments for the fees associated with most forms. This change allows applicants to use major credit cards to pay for the 41 fee-based forms that are processed and paid through the USCIS Lockbox facilities. To do so, however, applicants must submit an additional form – the Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions – along with their applications.
The change was announced on February 14, 2018, and it became effective immediately. Those forms most notably included are the Application for Travel Document (Form I-131), Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140), Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485), Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-539/A) and Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765). The form most notably absent from the list is Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129), the fee for which must still be paid by check or money order (reason unknown). A complete list of the forms can be found here.
How to Pay USCIS Fees Today
The option to pay with a credit card – at no additional cost to the applicant – should help expedite the always laborious filing process. To pay via credit card, applicants must include the completed Form G-1450 with their filing, which allows the USCIS to enter the applicants’ credit card information into the Pay.gov system (operated by the Department of the Treasury). Once complete, the G-1450 forms are destroyed to protect the applicants’ sensitive credit card information.
History of USCIS Fees
In September of 2015 – as part of the Obama administration’s push to improve access to naturalization for the millions of green card holders who are eligible to apply for citizenship (but haven’t yet done so) – the USCIS began accepting credit cards for the naturalization application and biometrics fee (for fingerprints, photo and signature). This convenience was also made available to those renewing or replacing green cards. The credit card initiative – allowing applicants the opportunity to pay over time with their credit cards – was implemented to address the financial barrier that such fees can represent.
Why It Makes a Difference
This further USCIS modernization of increasing the number of fees that can be paid by credit card (which is still a paper process that involves a paper form) is not only more convenient for applicants but also helps take the financial sting out of the process. The fact is that USCIS filing fees are cost prohibitive for many applicants. Before credit card payments hit the scene, these applicants were put in the difficult bind of having to save the requisite amounts before they could write the checks or purchase the money orders they needed to file – thus delaying the already lengthy process.
The recent acceptance of credit card payments by the USCIS also helps mitigate check-processing delays with banks, eliminate ACH transfer issues and cut out the bother and expense of procuring money orders. All told, this move by the USCIS makes the filing process more efficient and convenient for applicants.
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Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult a Bridge-affiliated partner attorney or another qualified legal professional.