While it is seldom ideal to use credit for things you won’t immediately be able to pay off, it’s a fact of life that Americans rely on credit for major, or even day-to-day, purchases. If using a credit card means that a client will be able to immigrate their loved one much sooner, financial best practices often take a back seat to matters of the heart. And I am happy to offer clients the chance to pay my fee by credit card, even if it means I make less that I would if they paid me by check.
Unfortunately, when a client asks about paying for services via credit card my standard answer has generally been “I accept credit cards for my fee, but the government does not.” In other words, feel free to pay me by credit card but when it comes time to pay the filing fee to the government, you must pay by check or money order.
USCIS Now Accepts Credit Cards for N-400 Filings
The US government’s demand for cash in the immigration process took an interesting turn this fall when USCIS announced that it would begin accepting credit cards for immigration filing fees — but only for the N-400, Application for Naturalization, filing fee. Under this new program, people applying for US Citizenship may choose to pay the $680 filing fee by credit card — either their credit card or someone else’s credit card. In order to participate, the applicant must submit Form G-1450 in addition to their Form N-400.
Hailed by immigrant advocates as a positive step in helping lower-income green card holders fulfill their dream of becoming US Citizens, this latest White House initiative has also been met with harsh criticism. Republicans have decried the decision as a not-so-subtle move by Obama and the Democratic Party to sign up as many liberal-leaning voters as they can before the 2016 election by simply making more of them.
And although great news for people who would otherwise not be able to become US Citizens due to poor cash flow, this announcement still keeps a huge segment of filers firmly in the “cash is King” category — i.e. anyone applying for most types of permanent residence.