To get legal permanent resident status in the U.S, you must get an immigrant petition approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This immigrant petition must either be filed by your family member if you are applying for a family-based Green Card, by your employer if you wish to immigrate to the U.S. based on your employment or you can file a petition for yourself if you are planning to invest in the U.S.
The employer or the family member sponsoring you must pay the application filing fees. Following are the common petitions filed and their fees as of July 2018.
|Form I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)||$535||Filed by U.S. citizens to bring their fiancé(e) (K-1 visa) to be married to them in the U.S. and that person’s children (K-2 visa) or to bring their spouse (K-3 visa) and that person’s children (K-4 visa) to the U.S. to apply for legal permanent resident status.|
|Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative||$535||Filed by U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents to establish their qualifying family relationship to certain family members who wish to immigrate to the U.S.|
|Form I–140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker||$700||Filed by U.S. employers to petition for a foreign national employee to become a permanent resident of the U.S.|
|Form I–526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur||$3,675||Filed by a foreign national entrepreneur to immigrate to the U.S. based on investment.|
While the above-mentioned fees must be paid by the petitioner, there are additional fees that will need to be paid by the beneficiaries of these petitions. Once these petitions are processed and approved by the USCIS, the beneficiary will have to apply for visas at U.S. Embassies or U.S. Consulates in their home countries. They will need to pay the fee for the visa for which they are applying.
Apart from that, they may also be required to pay the fees for other services like medical examination, the fee for translation if their supporting documents are not in English, etc.
USCIS Immigrant Fee
Once you receive an immigrant visa, you will be allowed to travel to the U.S. and will be admitted as a legal permanent resident. Before you travel to the U.S., you will have to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee online. You may pay this fee as soon as you receive your immigrant visa packet from the embassy or consulate in your home country. It is recommended to pay this fee before you leave for the U.S. because this will ensure that you receive your Green Card without delay.
The immigrant fee that you need to pay while moving permanently to the U.S. is $220.
USCIS uses this fee to process the immigrant visa packets once you land in the U.S. This fee is also used to produce Green Cards. Remember, this fee is different from the immigrant visa application fee that you pay to the U.S. Department of State for your visa.
When you visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to receive your immigrant visa packet, you will also be given a handout with instructions on how to pay the immigrant fee. Along with this, you will also be given an Immigrant Data Summary sheet. This sheet will have your Alien Registration Number (ARN) and DOS Case ID.
To pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee, you can visit www.uscis.gov/file-online, login and enter your ARN and your DOS Case ID. You can then enter your valid card details or bank account information and pay the fee. If you are unable to pay the fee, you can ask a friend or a relative to pay this fee on your behalf. Likewise, you can pay this fee for your family members or friends.
Once you arrive in the U.S., USCIS will first verify that you have paid the Immigrant Fee. Only after that will your Green Card be mailed to you. If you have not paid the fee or if the USCIS did not receive a record that you have paid this fee, the agency will send you a letter with instructions to pay the fee.
Remember, you will receive your Green Card only after you pay this fee. However, the USCIS Immigrant Fee may not apply to you if
- you are a child who entered the U.S. either under the Orphan or Hague adoption programs.
- you are an Iraqi and Afghan special immigrant.
- you are an SB-1 returning resident.
- you are a K visa holder.
If you fail to pay this USCIS Immigrant Fee, the USCIS will not process and mail out your Green Card. The only evidence that you will have will be the I-551 stamp placed on your passport when you arrive in the U.S. as a legal immigrant. This stamp is valid for a year. You can use this as proof of your legal status in the U.S. However, once this stamp expires, you will need your Green Card as proof of your legal immigrant status in the U.S.
Diversity Visa Lottery
You can enter the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery program also known as the Green Card lottery for free. But you will be required to pay the Diversity Visa Lottery fee of $330 if you are selected for a DV immigrant visa. The fee payment procedure is not the same across all U.S. Embassies and U.S. Consulates. While some require applicants to pay the fee after the interview, some require those applying to pay the fee before the interview. You will need to check with the embassy or consulate in your home country for specific instructions before paying the fee.
Green Card Renewal
The Green Card renewal process is something that you will need to go through every ten years. Entering into the U.S. on an immigrant visa means you have been granted permanent resident status in the U.S. This status does not expire. You will lose it only if you commit a crime that makes you ineligible for immigrant status in the U.S. or if you abandon your status. The Green Card issued to you as proof of this legal status will not remain valid forever. It comes with a limited-time validity of ten years. At the end of the ten-year period is when you will need to apply to renew this card and get a new card. The USCIS requires permanent residents applying for a Green Card renewal to submit Form I-90, Application to Renew/Replace Permanent Resident Card. As of July 2018, the fee for Green Card renewal is $455. You might have to pay an additional $85 for biometrics services. In that case, the total fee that you will pay to renew your Green Card will be $540.