The immigrant visa fee has to be paid to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by an individual who is immigrating to the United States as a lawful permanent resident. USCIS uses this fee to process the immigration visa and produce a Green Card (permanent resident card) for the individual.
The US Department of State is responsible for granting immigrant visas to applicants abroad through overseas U.S. Embassies and Consulates. After the approval of the applications and after the immigrant visa interviews, visa applicants will receive their immigrant visa package.
Individuals with approved immigrant visas need to pay the $220.00 USCIS immigrant visa fee before traveling to the United States.
They can then travel to the United States as immigrants with these packages. After they reach the U.S. ports of entry, immigration officers will interview them and grant them entry into the country if they are admissible. After getting into the United States, these immigrants can obtain their permanent resident cards or Green Cards.
Certain individuals are exempt from paying the immigrant visa fee:
- K visa holders
- Children entering the U.S. under the orphan or Hague adoption program
- Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants
- Returning residents (SB-1s)
If the individual is not able to pay the immigrant visa fee, he or she can have family members, friends, an employer or an attorney/representative pay the fee for them. Whoever is going to pay the fee will need to have the applicant’s A-Number and Case ID given by the Department of State.
It is recommended to pay the immigrant visa fees before traveling to the U.S. However, the fee may also be paid after arriving in the U.S. In this case, USCIS will send a notice with payment instructions. The green card will be issued only after the immigrant fee has been paid to the USCIS.
The process to make the immigrant visa fee payment
Fee payment must be made through USCIS ELIS. Applicants who receive their immigrant visa packages alone must create USCIS ELIS accounts and pay this fee online. Parents of minor children and guardians of disabled individuals can create ELIS accounts on behalf of their children and the disabled individuals and pay this fee.
To complete the electronic payment request, applicants must enter the Case ID numbers allocated to them by the U.S. Department of State and their Alien Registration Numbers (A-Number). The immigrant fee must be paid online through a credit or debit card.
After the immigrants enter the country, USCIS will mail their green cards to the address that they provided during the interviews, after verifying payment of the immigrant fee.
The lawful permanent resident status of the immigrants may not be at risk if they fail to pay this fee but they will not receive their green cards until they pay the immigrant fee. Hence, it is mandatory to pay the required immigrant fees soon after receiving the immigrant visa package to get a green card.