Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that effective February 1, 2013, it will begin collecting a new USCIS Immigrant Fee of $165.00 from foreign nationals seeking permanent residence in the United States. The new fee is in addition to fees charged by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) for processing an individual’s immigrant visa application. The regulation establishing this new fee had been previously published by USCIS in its September 24, 2010 final rule adjusting fees for immigration applications and petitions.
USCIS processes approximately 36,000 immigrant visa packages each month. The new fee purportedly will allow USCIS to recover its costs of processing immigrant visas after immigrants arrive in the United States. Despite its establishment in 2010, USCIS has not previously collected the fee from immigrant visa holders applying for admission to the United States, because only recently have implementing procedures — in conjunction with DOS —been developed.
Immigrant visa holders, or other third parties on their behalf,will pay the new fee online (after they receive their visa package from DOS, but before they depart for the United States) by completing the USCIS intake page on Pay.gov and providing their U.S. checking account,debit or credit card information. DOS will provide applicants during their consular interview with specific information on how to submit payment. The implementation of this new fee is further detailed in a Federal Register notice scheduled for publication tomorrow.
Failure to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee will not directly result in denial of admission to the United States as an immigrant or the loss of status as an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence. However, USCIS will not issue a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551) to an individual who is subject to the USCIS Immigrant Fee until the individual has paid the fee. A Permanent Resident Card serves as an immigrant’s proof of status and compliance with the alien registration requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act. It is also evidence of the immigrant’s employment authorization in the United States, and is required in order to gain admission to the United States after temporary foreign travel.
Exempted from this new fee will be prospective adoptive parents whose child will enter the United States under the Orphan or Hague processes for international adoptions. However, USCIS has indicated it 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.
For more information visit the USCIS Immigrant Fee webpage.