August 29th, 2013 by Abby Keane
Immigrants who have been granted an immigrant visa (green card) from outside the U.S. are required to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee.
When applying for an immigrant visa from outside the U.S., you will go through consular processing. If granted an immigrant visa, you will receive a visa packet from a U.S. Consulate. The USCIS Immigrant Fee must be paid after receiving the visa packet and before departing to the U.S.
The current USCIS Immigrant Fee is $165. There is no fee waiver.
If you do not pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee, you will not receive your green card.
Paying the USCIS Immigrant Fee
The USCIS Immigrant Fee must be paid online through the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (ELIS). This fee can only be paid by you, the applicant. A legal representative cannot make this payment on your behalf.
In ELIS, you must create a new account and include your personal information. This includes your A-Number and Case ID. The A-Number and Case ID are on the Immigrant Data Summary Sheet stapled to the front of the visa packet you receive. If you did not receive an Immigrant Data Summary Sheet, contact the U.S. Consulate that issued the visa packet.
You can pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee using a credit card, debit card or bank ACH transfer. You must only use one payment method. The system does not allow you to pay the fee by splitting the payment into multiple methods.
Steps for Consular Processing
Consular processing is available for immigrant visa applicants living abroad who have an approved immigrant petition (green card petition) and an immigrant visa number available. An immigrant petition is filed with the USCIS. Most immigrant petitions are filed by a U.S. citizen family member or U.S. citizen employer on an immigrant visa applicant’s behalf.
- After an immigrant petition has been filed with USCIS, you, the applicant, will receive a notice in the mail informing you of the decision. If the petition is denied, reasons for the denial will be stated. If the petition is approved, USCIS will send the approved petition to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC). The petition will remain in NVC until and immigrant visa number is available.
- After you receive a notice from NVC letting you know that an immigrant visa number is available, consular processing will begin. You will be scheduled for a visa appointment at a U.S. Consulate. The Consulate will process your petition and determine whether or not you should be granted an immigrant visa.
- After the immigrant visa is granted, you will receive a packet of information from the consular office. This is the visa packet. It must remain sealed. As stated above, this is when you are required to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee.
- Upon arrival, you will give the sealed visa packet to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry. The CBP officer will check the packet and decide whether or not you will be admitted.
- After admission, USCIS will verify your USCIS Immigrant Fee payment. Once payment is verified, you can expect to receive your green card within 30 days.