Starting May 19, 2013, immigrants abroad who have received their immigrant visas can pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee of $165.00US online through USCIS ELIS, the USCIS Electronic Immigration System. USCIS ELIS is the much touted “transformation” of paper-bound immigration processing to electronic on-line processing which USCIS has promised will modernize its immigration processing.
The ELIS system permits an applicants to make a payment, file an application, and submit electronically scanned evidence directly to USCIS. It also permits an applicant to gain real-time information about his or her case and receive USCIS notices electronically. Despite substantial investment by USCIS in ELIS, it covers only a single form: An application used by certain foreign nationals who seek to change or extend their visitor, or student stay. Now ELIS is also to be used by immigrants abroad to pay a Immigrant Fee to USCIS before departing for the U.S. instead of making payment on pay.gov. Starting February 1, 2013, USCIS began collecting a $165.00US fee for each immigrant who receives an immigrant visa package from a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad to receive a green card in the U.S. The fee reimburses USCIS for the cost of immigration processing after an immigrant surrenders his or her visa package to USCIS.
USCIS has not stated when ELIS will be expanded to process any of the other dozens of paper forms which USCIS requires of immigrants and non-immigrants alike.
Stewart Rabinowitz practices United States immigration and nationality law. He is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. is an immigration law firm representing businesses, families, and individuals.