When people start to file immigrant petitions with US Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS"), they realize that there is a fee for every part in the process. There is a fee for the relative petition paid to USCIS, and a fee for the visa, paid to the Department of State. Now there is a fee to have the green card processed and mailed to you because somehow all of the other fees you paid do not cover that cost.
Beginning in February 2013, USCIS began charging a "USCIS Immigrant Fee." This fee is required for all persons immigrating to the United States by obtaining a visa at a consulate or embassy abroad, including Canada or Mexico.
The fee is paid online after receiving the visa package from the Department of State and prior to entering into the United States. The fee must come from a U.S. bank so it generally means that the sponsor or a relative in the United States will be paying the fee. The fee is currently $165 and it is per person.
There are a few exceptions of persons with certain statuses who do not have to pay the fee. These exempt statuses include:
- Children who enter the United States pursuant to the Orphan or Hague Adoption programs
- Iraq and Afghan special immigrants
- returning residents (SB-1s)
- K visas
The USCIS immigrant fee is paid online. You will need the following information to pay:
- The alien number of the applicant;
- The Case ID number of the applicant;
- Your checking account information, or;
- Your debit or credit card information.
If you do not pay, you will not receive your green card. It is therefore advisable to pay the fee as soon as you receive the packet from the Department of State.