Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will implement a new fee, effective February 1, 2013, for all foreign nationals seeking permanent residence in the United States and individuals seeking an immigrant visa.  Applicants will still have to pay the DHS visa application processing fee in conjunction with the new $165 immigrant fee through the USCIS website.

The new immigrant fee aims to cover the cost of USCIS staff time to handle, file and maintain the immigrant visa package as well as the cost of producing and delivering the permanent resident card.  The fee was established from the September 24, 2010 final rule developed by the DHS and USCIS to recover the costs of processing immigrant visas in the United States.

According to the USCIS website:

Inter-country Adoptions
The fee does not apply to those entering the United States under intercountry adoptions programs.
Children admitted into the United States under the Orphan or Hague Adoptions Process are currently exempt from paying the USCIS Immigrant Fee; however, USCIS will consider the cost of processing immigrant visas issued by the DOS for the Orphan and Hague process the next time there is an adjustment to the fee schedule.
When and How to Pay the Fee
Applicants must pay this fee online through the USCIS website. Applicants should submit payments after they receive their visa package from DOS and before they depart for the United States.
Applicants can electronically submit the fee by answering the questions on the USCIS website by providing their:
·         checking account information, or
·         debit or credit card information.
All check payments must be drawn on a U.S. bank.
If the applicant is unable to make this payment, another person can make this payment on the applicant’s behalf.
Failure to Pay
The applicant will not receive a green card until the required USCIS Immigrant fee is paid.
Failure to pay does not affect the lawful status of the applicant. While the applicant can use their Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Form I-94, Arrival and Departure Record, for one year to document they are a lawful permanent resident, once that I-94 stamp expires, the applicant will need to possess a green card as evidence of their lawful permanent resident status.
The announcement in its entirety can be read on the USCIS website while the official statement can be viewed here.

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