USCIS to Collect New Fee of $165 from Immigrants Beginning Feb 1, 2013

It was probably inevitable, but USCIS has announced a new reason for collecting more fees from immigrants.  The USCIS Immigrant Fee of $165, has been levied (after a period of public comment) in order to account for USCIS’ cost to create the permanent resident card, the associated visa package files and the means to send out the necessary documentation to new immigrants. USCIS held an information session on December 19, 2012 to address questions on the fee and dedicated this website to address the immigrant fee. Come January, USCIS will release more details instructing new immigrants on how to pay the fee of $165.

Who Should Pay the Immigrant Fee of $165?

The Immigrant Fee of $165 will be required to be paid by immigrants who have been issued an immigrant visa abroad on or after February 1, 2013.  The following groups are exempt from having to pay the fee:

  • Prospective adoptive parents under the Orphan or Hague Process;
  • Iraqi or Afghani immigrants employed by the United States;
  • Returning Immigrant Residents; and,
  • K visa holders.

Immigrants who have paid the Immigrant Fee are encouraged to retain a copy of the receipt of payment in order to prove payment.

Failure to Pay the Immigrant Fee

Upon arrival and entry into the U.S., immigrants will be issued an I-551 stamp, reflecting their Legal Permanent Residence status.  The stamp is valid for one year.  On or after February 1, 2013, individuals who are required to pay the Immigrant Fee but have not yet done so will receive at least two separate reminders from USCIS.  Failure to pay the fee will result in the Legal Permanent Resident card not being issued.  There are no fee waivers for the Immigrant Fee. Accredited representatives and attorneys of record for the beneficiary will also receive notification reminding the immigrant to pay the fee.  Our readers are encouraged to implement a process to ensure their immigrants clients who are subject to the fee pay the fee.