People immigrating to the U.S. will have to pay the $165 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Immigrant Fee. This fee recovers the costs related to immigrant visas issued by the U.S. Department of State (DOS), the cost of USCIS processing and the cost of producing permanent resident cards (green cards). Immigrants need to pay a separate fee for immigrant visa application processing to the DOS and the immigrant fee to USCIS.
Citizens of foreign countries who receive immigrant visas from overseas U.S. embassies or consulates should pay this immigrant fee prior to traveling to the U.S. Immigrant visa holders can pay this fee through the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS). This fee must be paid soon after they receive their visa packets from the embassies or consulates abroad. They can get their green cards without delay, if they pay this fee prior to their departure. However, they can also pay this fee after they get to the U.S.
Beneficiaries of immigrant petitions will receive handouts that explain how they need to pay the immigrant fee during their appointments at embassies or consulates. Their alien registration numbers and their DOS Case ID numbers will be printed on those handouts and so they need to keep those handouts safe. Instructions on the handouts will help them to create online USCIS ELIS accounts. Once they set up their accounts, they need to pay the required immigrant fee. They can pay the fee for themselves and their family members who will be immigrating with them. Separate fee must be paid for each immigrant. They fee can be paid using debit cards.
USCIS will verify their payment and mail their green cards to them after they travel to the U.S. as legal residents with their immigrant visas. Their resident cards will be mailed to the address they provided at the time of their immigrant visa interviews, within 30 days from the date of their admission to the U.S.
Green cards will not be issued to those who fail to pay this fee. Immigrants who fail to pay the fee can use their passports with the I-551 stamp as a proof of their legal status. Those stamps will be valid only for a year, after which they need to possess green cards to establish that they are legal residents.