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Immigration and Naturalization Service Collection of Fees at Air Ports of Entry

Report No. 02-42
September 2002
Office of the Inspector General


Redacted Version

The 1989 Department of Justice Appropriation Act, Public Law 100-459, established the Immigration Examinations Fee Account. This account contains revenues from the fees the INS collects for processing various types of applications and petitions for immigration benefits.

Audit reports issued by the General Accounting Office and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) as early as fiscal year 1991 found weaknesses in the INS's fee collections. In February 2000, the OIG issued INS Collection of Fees at Land Border Ports of Entry, Report Number 00-05, which identified serious control weaknesses in the collection of fees at land border POEs. In response, in July 2000 the INS issued new fee collection procedures applicable to all POEs (air, land, and sea).

During a visit to the INS's Debt Management Center2 in Williston, Vermont, we learned that many air POEs used manual (handwritten) receipts for fee collections rather than the cash registers we found at the land border POEs.

Our objectives for this audit were to determine whether the controls in place over the fee collection process were adequate at air POEs to ensure that:

During our audit, we requested that the INS provide a universe of airports and related fee collections. However, INS management provided a listing of only 14 airports collecting fees. Because much of the airport fee data was commingled with the district offices' fee collections, there was no way to extrapolate any data that would generate an accurate estimate or the total amount collected. Therefore, from listings of international airports maintained by the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Customs Service, and the INS, we identified at least 185 air POEs where the INS might collect fees.

From that list of 185 airports, we judgmentally selected the following eight major airports to review: John F. Kennedy International (JFK), New York, New York; Hartsfield International, Atlanta, Georgia; Miami International, Miami, Florida; O'Hare International, Chicago, Illinois; Detroit Metropolitan, Detroit, Michigan; Los Angeles International, Los Angeles, California; San Francisco International, San Francisco, California; and Pearson International, Toronto, Canada.3 Fieldwork was conducted during July and August 2001.

Air POEs collect fees, usually in the form of cash, primarily for processing Form I-193, Application for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa.4 The fee for one person is $170. Other applications that were processed at the air POEs in our sample were:

The eight air POEs we reviewed deposited approximately $2.5 million into the Examinations Fee Account during the period of October 1, 2000, through June 30, 2001, as shown in the table below.

Deposits by POE

Airport Deposits October 1, 2000
Through June 30, 2001

Atlanta $96,250
Chicago 88,084
Detroit 44,335
JFK 229,750
Los Angeles 328,930
Miami 731,962
San Francisco 103,575
Toronto 833,750

Total $2,456,636

Source: Deposit data maintained by the POEs.


  1. INS field offices normally submit deposit information to the Debt Management Center. Some suboffices and POEs route their deposits through a larger field office or a district office.
  2. The INS conducts preclearance operations at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Canada. Preclearance is the full inspection at foreign ports of U.S.-bound travelers and their luggage for immigration, customs, public health, and agriculture purposes.
  3. Aliens arriving in the United States with an expired visa, passport, or Permanent Resident Card or without a Permanent Resident Card or valid reentry permit may obtain entry into the U.S. by applying for a waiver and showing good cause.

Redacted Version