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Demystifying Green Card Costs: Understanding the Expenses Involved

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For numerous individuals seeking to live and work permanently in the United States, acquiring a green card, also known as lawful permanent residency, represents a momentous milestone.

However, the process of obtaining it involves various expenses that can differ depending on the applicant’s circumstances and the specific pathway they choose.

In this comprehensive post, we explore the costs associated with obtaining a green card, shedding light on the various fees involved, as well as potential additional expenses.

Understanding the financial aspects of the green card application process can help individuals plan and budget accordingly.

Understanding the Expenses Involved in Getting Green Card in the US

USCIS Filing Fees

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the agency responsible for processing green card applications.

The USCIS charges filing fees for various green card-related petitions and applications.

The most common filing fees include Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) and Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative).

The filing fees for these forms can range from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars, depending on the specific category and age of the applicant.

For example, the filing fee for Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status) is currently $1,225, while Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) costs $535.

Biometrics Fees

As part of the application process, applicants are usually required to undergo biometrics processing.

This involves having their fingerprints, photograph, and signature taken for background checks.

The USCIS charges a biometrics fee, which typically ranges from $85 to $90 per applicant. This fee is non-refundable, even if the green card application is later denied.

Affidavit of Support

For certain green card categories, such as family-based or employment-based green cards, a sponsor or petitioner may need to submit an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864).

This document is used to demonstrate that the applicant will have adequate financial support in the United States.

While there is no filing fee for Form I-864, the sponsor’s financial responsibility could be a significant factor in the green card process.

Consular Processing Fees (for applicants abroad)

If an applicant is applying for a green card through consular processing from outside the United States, there will be additional fees associated with the process.

These fees typically include the visa application fee and any other charges imposed by the US embassy or consulate where the interview takes place.

The consular processing fees can vary depending on the country and the type of visa being sought.

Green Card
Photo by Charles Parker

Medical Examination

As part of the application process, most applicants are required to undergo a medical examination by a USCIS-approved civil surgeon.

The cost of the medical examination varies depending on the physician’s fee and any additional tests or vaccinations required, typically ranging from $100 to $500.

Attorney’s Fees

Many individuals choose to hire an immigration lawyer to guide them through the green card application process.

Attorney’s fees can vary widely depending on the complexity of the case, the lawyer’s experience, and the services provided.

Attorneys may apply either a flat fee for specific services or charge by the hour, depending on their billing approach.

It is essential to discuss the attorney’s fees upfront and to ensure that all services and costs are clearly outlined in a written agreement.

Translation and Documentation Costs

In some cases, green card applicants may need to provide translations of documents not in English.

Additionally, obtaining and collecting the necessary supporting documentation, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, and police clearances, can also incur expenses.

Adjustment of Status vs. Consular Processing

The cost of obtaining a green card can also differ based on whether the applicant is applying through Adjustment of Status (from within the US) or Consular Processing (from outside the US).

Adjustment of Status generally incurs higher fees, as it involves additional government filing fees and requires the applicant to be physically present in the US.

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Obtaining a green card in the United States is an essential step toward building a stable and permanent life in the country.

However, the green card application process involves various costs and fees that applicants should be prepared for.

From USCIS filing fees and biometrics costs to potential attorney’s fees and translation expenses, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the financial aspects involved.

By being well-informed about the expenses associated with obtaining a green card, individuals can plan and budget accordingly, ensuring a smoother and more successful application process.

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