Are you thinking about migrating to the U.S. as a legal permanent resident? If so, you must know that you have to pay an immigrant fee unless you meet the exemptions criteria. The fee is used by the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Service) to process the immigration application and send you the Green Card (also known as a permanent resident card).

About the USCIS Immigrant Fee

The USCIS immigrant fee at the moment is $165. Check the USCIS website for the latest immigration fees. You must pay the fee following the receipt of immigrant visa package from the United States consular office or embassy. It’s recommended that you pay the fee before departing for the U.S.

You have to pay the immigration fee for all family members departing with you to the U.S. The fee can be paid online using the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (ELIS). You can pay the fee using a credit card, debit card, Visa gift card, or a U.S. bank account. In order to pay through your U.S. bank account, you need to specify the routing number and checking account number for your U.S. bank.

After you have paid the immigrant fee, the USCIS will send you the Green Card after you take up residence in the U.S. Although, it’s recommended that you pay the fee before departing, but the fee can also be paid after you arrive in the country. You will receive a notice from the USCIS if you have not paid the fees upon arrival. Remember that you will not receive the Green Card unless you pay the immigrant fee.

How to Pay Fee Using the USCIS Online Payment System (ELIS)?

You can pay the immigrant fee using the USCIS online payment system, the ELIS. In order to make the payment, you must first create an account. The website contains step-by-step instruction on how to create the online account.

After the account is created, you can make payment by logging into the account and choosing immigrant fee. You have to enter the U.S. DOS (Department of State) Case ID and A-Number (Alien Registration Number) to pay the fee.

Exemptions of USCIS Immigrant Fee

The following individuals are exempted from paying the immigrant fee:

  • Afghani and Iraqi special immigrants;
  • Children entering the U.S. under the Hague adoption or orphan programs;
  • K nonimmigrants;
  • Returning lawful permanent residents (SB-1s).

Note that parents of a child younger than 14 years or mentally or physically handicapped can create the account and pay the immigrant fee on behalf of their child. Also, attorneys, representatives, or employers are not allowed to pay the fee using the USCIS account.