USCIS announced on August 31, 2015, that the agency has simplified the process for paying the $165 immigrant visa (“IV”) fee through its electronic immigration system, known as ELIS. The IV fee is required of those foreign nationals immigrating to the United States to produce permanent resident cards, known as “green cards.” A “green card” will not be issued without having paid this fee, with the exception of very limited situations. This fee is payable to USCIS and is separate and apart from the immigrant visa fee payable to the National Visa Center in connection with the U.S. Department of State processing of immigrant visa applications.
Amongst the announced changes are a reduction in the amount of information an immigrant must provide to USCIS as part of creating an ELIS account and ordering the production of their green card. Of particular note is that USCIS will now permit other individuals, including family members, attorneys, or accredited representatives to submit payment on behalf of the applicant, so long as the payee possesses the applicant’s Alien Registration Number (“A-Number”) and their Department of State Case ID. Until this change was announced, USCIS restricted the ability to create an account and pay the IV fees through ELIS to the applicant herself. These system improvements reflect the Agency’s continuing efforts to simplify its systems and procedures.