USCIS Implements New Immigrant Visa Processing Fee

Contributed by Jacki Lentini

The USCIS implemented a new Immigrant Visa fee effective February 1, 2013. Applicants for an Immigrant Visa package issued on or after February 1, 2013, at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad (including Canada and Mexico) are required to pay two Immigrant Visa fees: one to the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and one to USCIS. The new USCIS fee will be $165.

Applicants for Immigrant Visas through the U.S. Consulates abroad will be required to pay the new USCIS fee through the USCIS website before departing the U.S. The applicant will need to provide USCIS with either checking account or debit/credit card information to pay the fee. It must be drawn on a U.S. bank. USCIS warns that if an applicant fails to pay this new USCIS fee, the applicant will not receive a Permanent Resident Card until the fee is paid. Failure to pay the fee will not affect the applicant’s lawful permanent resident status when entering the U.S. In the event that an individual does not pay the USCIS fee prior to departing the U.S., the individual will still have their passport stamped (I-551 stamp) evidencing lawful admission and permanent resident status when entering the United States as an immigrant. However, the admission stamp is only valid for one year. USCIS advises that applicants pay the immigrant fee as soon as possible to avoid any delays in receiving the Permanent Resident Card.

The immigrant fee will cover USCIS costs of staff time to handle, file and maintain the immigrant visa package, and the cost of producing and delivering the permanent resident card. Each month, USCIS processes approximately 36,000 immigrant visa packages.