Transitioning to E-Payment for Bonds: Practice Tips for Navigating ICE’s New Web-Based System

In a recent stakeholder engagement, we have learned about the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) plan to transition to an electronic payment system for bonds. While ICE will continue to allow in-person posting of cash bonds for a limited time, the agency strongly encourages individuals to utilize the CeBONDS web-based system. This blog aims to provide practice tips for attorneys and individuals navigating the new electronic payment system for bonds.

To better understand the transition to the electronic payment system, it is essential to familiarize ourselves with its key components:

  1. Verification of Bond Status:
    Users will only be able to submit payments through the web-based system if it confirms the existence of a bond based on the noncitizen’s information. This ensures that payments are processed accurately and efficiently.
  2. Expanded User Categories:
    Besides U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, law firms, and nonprofit organizations will also be permitted to post bonds through CeBONDS. It remains unclear whether individuals outside these categories will be able to post bonds that are not Voluntary Departure or Order of Supervision bonds.
  3. Acceptance of Bonds Granted by ICE or Immigration Judges:
    The new system will allow the posting of bonds granted by ICE or an immigration judge. This ensures flexibility and accessibility for individuals seeking to meet their bond requirements.
  4. Electronic Funds Transfer:
    The system will require obligors to make payments at a bank using either FedWire or an Automated Clearing House (ACH) for electronic funds transfer. This modernization streamlines the payment process and enhances financial security.

Managing Costs and Accessibility Challenges while the transition to electronic payment offers several advantages, it’s important to be aware of potential challenges and considerations. Here are some practice tips to navigate these issues:

  1. Additional Out-of-Pocket Costs:
    Recent member reports indicate that there may be additional costs associated with using FedWire for electronic funds transfer. It is advisable to stay informed about any applicable fees and assess the financial impact on your clients.
  2. Language and Accessibility Limitations:
    The CeBONDS portal is currently available only in English and Spanish, with some sections exclusively in English. This language limitation may pose a barrier for individuals who are not proficient in these languages. Additionally, coalition partner reports suggest that the system may not be accessible to people with certain physical disabilities, such as low sight or blindness. It is crucial to consider alternative methods or accommodations for clients facing accessibility challenges.
  3. Optimizing Device Compatibility:
    While the web-based system can be accessed on desktop computers, it may not be fully optimized for smartphone or mobile use. Attorneys and individuals should be aware of potential limitations when accessing the system on mobile devices and plan accordingly to ensure a seamless user experience.

The transition to an electronic payment system for bonds signifies ICE’s commitment to modernization and efficiency. By understanding the key components of the new web-based system and considering the practice tips provided, attorneys and individuals can navigate the transition effectively. As the system evolves, it is essential to stay informed about updates, potential costs, and accessibility improvements to ensure the smooth processing of bond payments in immigration matters.

Author: Maya King

Attorney Maya King helps individuals, families, and businesses navigate the complex United States immigration system.

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