Foreigners who apply for lawful status in the United States need to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee of $165. This fee covers the costs related to the issuance of immigrant visas by the US Department of State. This fee covers the cost of production of Green Cards and the cost of the immigrant visa packets.
Foreigners who get their immigrant visa packets from the US Department of State must pay this immigrant fee prior to leaving for the United Sates. The only way to pay this fee is through the online account-based system, USCIS Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS). ELIS allows customers to create accounts and make payments online.
The right time to pay this fee is after receiving the immigrant visa packet from the overseas US Embassy or Consulate. It is recommended to pay the fee prior to departing for the United States. That is because, Green Cards will be issued only to those who pay this fee. Immigrants will be permitted to travel to the United States as lawful residents even if they do not pay this fee but they will not be issued Green Cards.
Process for Paying the USCIS Immigrant Fee
After you attend your immigrant visa interview at the overseas Consulate or Embassy, you will be given a handout with information on the USCIS Immigrant Fee. You need to follow those instructions and pay that fee. This handout will also include your Alien Registration Number and the DOS Case ID number.
- To pay this fee online, a USCIS ELIS account must be created. You need to follow the instructions and create an account.
- After creating an account, you will have to select “USCIS Immigrant Fee” under “Available Benefits” and pay the fee of $165. This fee can be paid by making use of your debit or credit card. You can use Visa, Master Card, American Express, Discover Card or a US bank checking account, to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee.
You can pay this fee for yourself and for your family members, who are immigrating with you and who have received their immigrant visa packets, in one transaction. Only those who pay this fee will be issued permanent resident cards.
What I fail to pay the fee prior to my departure?
If you cannot pay this fee prior to your departure, you can pay it after you arrive in the United States. USCIS will send you a letter requesting you to pay the fee if the agency does not find any record of payment in USCIS ELIS. You must remember that you will not receive your Green Card until you pay the fee.
What if I fail to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee?
A permanent resident card will not be issued to you, if you fail to pay the immigrant fee. USCIS will process your Green Card only after you pay the fee. While entering into the United States with your immigrant visa, your passport will be stamped and that passport with the stamp will help you to establish that you are a legal resident of America. But that stamp will be valid only for a year. After that you cannot use that passport with the I-551 stamp as a proof of your legal status and you need to hold a Green Card. To get a Green Card, you need to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee.
For information on visa processing times, USCIS service center processing times, USCIS local office processing times and expected border wait times, please visit http://uscisprocessingtimes.org/