Fees Charged by Storefront Biz for IDNYC

A store at 8th Avenue and 50th Street in Sunset Park is accused of charging for application services for the municipal ID. (Photo by Yiyi Huang via World Journal)

A store at 8th Avenue and 50th Street in Sunset Park is accused of charging for application services for the municipal ID. (Photo by Yiyi Huang via World Journal)

New York’s municipal ID program has thrilled New Yorkers. The application process is simple. The multilanguage translation and interpretation services during the process allow new immigrants with limited English skills to successfully complete the application. And it is free. However, in the Chinese community in Brooklyn, there is at least one entity charging a service fee to help people fill out and submit an application.

On May 7, Brooklyn resident Mr. Sun found a shop located at the intersection of 8th Avenue and 50th Street with a note posted on a board at its entrance offering services for municipal ID applications. Curious, Mr. Sun walked in to ask for details. He was told by the people working there that they can help him apply for a municipal ID for $40. Mr. Sun reported this to staff members at an official ID application center.

Mr. Sun said he knows the municipal ID application is very simple and it is free. Applicants can complete it at the official application centers as long as they bring their passport or driver’s license with them. So when he saw the sign at the shop, he thought it was a newly opened application center. The staffers there told him it was not an official center. But they can make an appointment, fill out the application form and accompany the applicant to an official center to apply for the ID. The applicant needs to pay $40 for the services.

Mr. Sun said these are fraudsters who try to profit from new immigrants’ ignorance of government policies. He felt the need to report them. The staffer at the official application center who took notes was outraged. They told Mr. Sun the municipal ID is open to anyone living in the city. It’s not a commercial product and there is no charge for applying.

The staffer also reminds Chinese applicants that there are altogether 21 application centers around the city. The one that is closest to the 8th Avenue neighborhood is located at 345 43rd Street in Sunset Park. The application process is very convenient. Applicants only need to bring required documents and fill out the form and have their picture taken at the center. All application centers have forms in Chinese. And at the center in Flushing, there are interpreters who speak Chinese on site.

People who want to get a municipal ID need to make an appointment first by calling 311 or going to the website: http://www1.nyc.gov/site/idnyc/index.page. Chinese translation and interpretation services are available for making an appointment too. There is no charge at all.

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