Collection and Disposition of Immigration-Related Fees
Several immigration-related violations result in the imposition of fines. Other money is collected as reimbursement to the U.S. government for costs associated with detaining, transporting, or removing aliens, for example. Section 286 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) discusses how the collected money is handled.
An Advisory Committee gives the Attorney General advice on the level of fees and the appropriateness of any proposed fee. Fees are collected for a variety of reasons. The U.S. Attorney General collects $7 for each person who undergoes an immigration inspection upon arriving at a U.S. port of entry. The fee is charged by the person who issues a ticket to a passenger for transportation on a commercial vessel or aircraft. If the fee is not collected at the time a ticket is issued in a foreign country, then it is collected when the passenger leaves the United States. This fee is not collected for passengers coming from Canada, Mexico, any U.S. state or territory, or an “adjacent island,” which includes islands such as Jamaica or the Dominican Republic. The fee is also not collected if a passenger’s ultimate destination is not the United States or if no immigration services are provided to the passenger. A fee of $3 is collected for each passenger on a commercial vessel whose journey began in the United States. This fee is not collected, however, for passengers on a Great Lakes ferry. In addition, no fees are collected from passengers arriving on scheduled flights to immigration-serviced airports or places outside the United States at which an immigration officer is stationed for the purpose of providing such immigration services.
Other fees are collected when genealogical research and services are provided. The fee amount will be set as the amount necessary to cover the cost of providing the service. In addition, the Attorney General is authorized to collect a $1,000 fee for employment-based petitions and applications. The collected fees are used to provide services to business customers and to make infrastructure improvements in the adjudication and customer-service processes.
As a general rule, any money paid to the U.S. Treasury in payment of fees and administrative fines and penalties is treated as “miscellaneous receipts.” Several exceptions to this general rule exist; for example, if money is paid as reimbursement for the detention, transportation, or hospitalization of an alien and that money was paid out of the appropriated amount for enforcement of the INA, then the reimbursement amount must be put toward the appropriation for the enforcement of the INA. The U.S. Treasury has several sub-accounts that are dedicated to immigration-related fees. These include an Immigration User Fee Account. Unless the INA provides otherwise, immigration fees collected are deposited into that account. Every two years, the receipts of the account are compared against the cost of providing immigration services and fees may be adjusted to cover expenses of providing services. Other accounts include an Immigration Examinations Fee Account, a Land Border Inspection Fee Account, a Breached BondDetention Fund, and an H-1B Nonimmigrant Petitioner Account.
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