Effective on February 1, 2013 all foreign nationals who seek permanent residence in the United States and receive an immigrant visa will need to pay a USCIS Immigrant Fee.
The new fee of $165 was established in USCIS’s final rule adjusting fees for immigration applications and petitions announced on Sept. 24, 2010. USCIS has worked closely with the Department of State (DOS) to implement the new fee which allows USCIS to recover the cost of processing that is performed in the United States after immigrant visa holders receive their visa packages from DOS and are admitted to the United States.
Note: Applicants will now have two separate fees to pay. They are still required to pay the DOS visa application processing fee and will now also have to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee.
What the Fee Covers
The immigrant fee will cover the cost of USCIS staff time to handle, file and maintain the immigrant visa package, and the cost of producing and delivering the permanent resident card.
Who Needs to Pay the Fee
Any individual who on or after February 1, 2013 receives an immigrant visa package from a United States consulate or embassy abroad (including Canada and Mexico) will pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee.
The fee does not apply to those entering the United States under intercountry adoptions programs. Children admitted into the United States under the Orphan or Hague Adoptions Process are currently exempt from paying the USCIS Immigrant Fee; however, USCIS will consider the cost of processing immigrant visas issued by the DOS for the Orphan and Hague process the next time there is an adjustment to the fee schedule.
When and How to Pay the Fee
Applicants must pay this fee online through the USCIS website. Applicants should submit payments after they receive their visa package from DOS and before they depart for the United States.
Applicants can electronically submit the fee by answering the questions on the USCIS website by providing their:
- checking account information or
- debit or credit card information.
All check payments must be drawn on a U.S. bank.
If the applicant is unable to make this payment another person can make this payment on the applicant’s behalf.
Failure to Pay
The applicant will not receive a green card until the required USCIS Immigrant fee is paid.
Failure to pay does not affect the lawful status of the applicant. While the applicant can use their Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Form I-94, Arrival and Departure Record, for one year to document they are a lawful permanent resident, once that I-94 stamp expires, the applicant will need to possess a green card as evidence of their lawful permanent resident status.