How to Pay the USCIS Immigrant Fees

Are you thinking about moving to the United States as a legal permanent resident? If so, you will have to pay an immigrant fee unless you meet the exemptions criteria. The fee is used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to process your immigration application and send you a green card (also known as a permanent resident card).

If you submit your green card application without the correct payment, your petition will be rejected and returned to you. A rejected application is not a denial, but it will cause a delay. Learn more about the USCIS immigration fees and how to successfully pay them.

USCIS Immigrant Fees Transcript

Paying the fees for your USCIS immigration forms is an important step in the process. Here are some helpful tips about paying your immigration fees:

  1. All payments need to be made in U.S. dollars. And the check or money order must come from a U.S. financial institution. 
  2. Checks and money orders need to be made out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  3. The date on the check needs to be in U.S. format, which is written month, day, then year.
  4. When writing out your check or money order, make sure to include a note stating what application you are paying for. It can look something like this. 
  5. Always confirm the fee amount before you fill out your check or money order. The USCIS sometimes changes the fees. And if you submit the wrong amount, your application will be returned.

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About the USCIS Immigrant Fee

You must pay the immigrant fee following the receipt of your immigrant visa package from the United States consular office or embassy. You have to pay the immigration fee for all family members traveling with you to the U.S. 

When Do You Have to Pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee?

It’s recommended that you pay the fee before departing for the United States. However, the fee can also be paid after you arrive in the country. The sooner you pay the fee, the sooner you can receive your green card.

How Much Is the Immigrant Fee?

In 2021, the USCIS immigrant fee is $220 but this fee is subject to change. The USCIS offers a fee calculator if you have multiple forms to file. 

Acceptable Payment Methods

There are multiple ways for you to pay USCIS immigration fees. Depending on your situation, one method may be more convenient than others. You may pay the immigration fee in person by visiting a USCIS field office. 

The USCIS immigrant fee can be paid online by:

  • Using the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (ELIS)
  • Credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover)
  • Debit card
  • Visa gift card
  • Electronic bank withdrawal

Bank withdrawals must be made using a U.S. bank account. You will need to specify the routing number and checking account number for your U.S. bank. 

You can also pay by mail with a:

  • Credit card
  • Check
  • Money order

Electronic Immigration System (ELIS)

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

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

man pays immigration fees online
A man pays his immigration fees online. Credit and debit cards are both accepted by USCIS.

Exemptions of USCIS Immigrant Fee

There are a few exceptions for people who do not have to pay an immigrant fee. The following individuals are exempted from paying a 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. Attorneys, representatives, or employers are not allowed to pay the fee using the USCIS account.

After Your Immigrant Fee Has Been Paid

After you have paid the immigrant fee, the USCIS will send you your green card after you take up residence in the U.S. You will receive a notice from the USCIS if you have not paid the fees before your arrival. Remember that you will not receive a green card unless you pay the immigrant fee.

How Long After Paying the Immigrant Fee Do You Get a Green Card?

The wait time is about 90 days. If you paid the immigrant visa fee before entering the United States, you may receive your green card within 90 days of entry. However, if you paid the immigrant fee for your visa after arriving in the U.S., it may take up to 90 days after you make the payment to receive your green card.  

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