Immigration Benefits:

INS Not Making Timely Deposits of Application Fees

GGD-00-185: Published: Sep 29, 2000. Publicly Released: Sep 29, 2000.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Richard M. Stana
(202) 512-3000
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on: (1) extent to which the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) made timely deposits of the fees that it collected from aliens who applied for benefits; and (2) potential costs to the government if INS fee deposits were not timely.

GAO noted that: (1) because the data maintained by INS was not complete, GAO was unable to fully determine the extent to which INS complied with Department of the Treasury regulations requiring that receipts totalling $5,000 or more be deposited on the same day if they were received prior to the deposit cutoff time, or the next day if they were received too late to meet the cutoff time; (2) INS maintained initial application acceptance processing data for its four service centers, which handled about 75 percent of the applications received; (3) however, INS did not maintain such data for its 33 district offices, which handled the remaining 25 percent of applications received; (4) in fiscal year 1999, INS service centers did not generally make timely fee deposits; (5) whereas Treasury requires that fees totalling $5,000 or more be deposited on the same day or the day after they are received, INS took, on average, at least 12 additional days beyond Treasury's time requirement; (6) GAO estimated that the resulting interest cost to the government, or the cost for interest incurred on debt or other obligations, was about $640,000 in fiscal year 1999; (7) GAO estimates are conservative because GAO did not have data on certain phases of the fee deposit process--such as the amount of time that applications remained unopened in service center mailrooms--that may have caused additional delays in the time taken to deposit fees; (8) any additional delays would have increased the amount of interest cost to the government; and (9) INS' contract of application processing services provided the contractor with more time to make fee deposits than is allowed by Treasury regulations.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: USCIS has taken steps to institute better controls over the processing of applications that had been sent to district offices. In August 2003, USCIS signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Department of Treasury for Bank One to perform lockbox imaging and check collection and processing services for adjustment of status applications that had originally been sent to district offices. According to USCIS, by April 1, 2005, this arrangement had been extended to include all application types and related fees that had gone to districts. USCIS stated that this has resulted in increased controls over the timeliness of deposits. In order to close this recommendation, GAO needed to obtain the appendices to the MOU that detail the performance requirements for Bank One, and information indicating that USCIS can monitor compliance with Treasury's deposit regulations for applications that had previously been sent to district offices. In 2008, HSJ closed this recommendation as not implemented because the information necessary to close the recommendation had been requested, but not provided by DHS, over many years.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of INS should institute procedures for recording information on application acceptance processing at district offices to include data that would permit INS to monitor district compliance with Treasury deposit regulations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Border and Transportation Security

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: U.S. CIS issued a Service Center support contract to a new contractor since GAO's September 2000 report. The contract requires the contractor to deposit all fees within 24 hours of receipt, in accordance with Treasury deposit regulation. Therefore, this recommendation has been implemented.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of INS should implement INS plans to require that the contractor make fee deposits in accordance with Treasury regulations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Border and Transportation Security

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: According to USCIS, the fee deposit process at service centers is done by contractors. Service Centers maintain continuous surveillance of contractor performance to include the timeliness of fee deposits. The Department of Treasury monitors the lockbox operator's performance. In order to close this recommendation, GAO needs specific information from USCIS on (1) the extent to which service center contractors and the lockbox operator are in compliance with the fee deposit requirement; (2) the reasons for any noncompliance that occurs. In 2008, HSJ closed this recommendation as not implemented because the information necessary to close the recommendation had been requested, but not provided by DHS, over many years.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of INS should determine which service centers and district offices do not comply with the fee deposit requirement and why the noncompliance occurs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Border and Transportation Security

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: USCIS' Service Center support contract provides a financial incentive for the contractor to be timely in depositing fees, and this is used as input for assessing the performance of the contractor. To close this recommendation, GAO needs information on how USCIS is ensuring that timely fee deposits are, in fact, being made for applications that had previously been sent to district offices. In 2008, HSJ closed this recommendation as not implemented because the information necessary to close the recommendation had been requested, but not provided by DHS, over many years.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of INS should take appropriate action to ensure that timely fee deposits are made.

    Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Border and Transportation Security

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Jul 9, 2014

May 14, 2014

Apr 30, 2014

Mar 26, 2014

Jan 13, 2014

Dec 9, 2013

Dec 6, 2013

Nov 20, 2013

Oct 29, 2013

Sep 25, 2013

Looking for more? Browse all our products here