Obtaining a family-based green card varies depending on your residence — inside the United States or abroad. If you want to sponsor your family member to get a green card, or you are a foreign national looking to apply for permanent residence in the United States, here is an overview of the Green card fee. 

How Much Does it Cost to Apply for a Green Card?

An applicant living in the United States will pay a green card fee of $1,760 to apply for a family-based green card. In contrast, an applicant outside the United States pays $1,200, according to the Department of Homeland Security. However, the green card cost is not inclusive of the medical examination. 

The fee is payable by check or money order to the Department of Homeland Security. Here is a breakdown of the costs.

  • Family sponsorship: Both applicants in the US and abroad pay $535.
  • Green card application form: US applicants pay $1,140, and those abroad don't pay anything.
  • Financial support form: US applicants don't pay anything, and applicants abroad pay $120.
  • Work permit application form: There are no fees for US applicants; applicants outside the US don't need the form. 
  • Travel permit application form: US applicants pay zero fees, and those abroad do not need the form.
  • Biometrics: US applicants are required to pay $85, while those outside the US pay nothing. 
  • State department processing: It is not required for US applicants and non-US applicants to pay $325.
  • USCIS immigrant fee: The fee is not required for US applicants, and non-US applicants pay $220.
  • Medical examination fees: The fee varies for both US and applicants abroad. However, a typical medical exam costs about $200, but it depends on the provider. If you are living in the United States, you must pay government fees simultaneously. However, the fees are paid months apart during the green card application process. 

Other Costs

In addition to the medical exam fee and government fees, the following are the other green card fees you'll have to pay:

Vaccination Fees

You may be required to update your vaccinations before completing your immigration medical exam report. The vaccination fees vary depending on the provider. 

Translation Services Fees

If the green card application includes documents, not in English, you have to translate them. The documents have to be certified by a translator. The costs vary but can range between $20 AND $40 for one page.

Document Fees

When applying for a green card, you must provide digital copies of your passport, marriage certificate, and birth certificate. You also have to carry your original copies when going for the green card interview, whether you submit your application abroad or in the United States. 

Professional Photography Fees

You'll have to verify your identity, and you'll be required to submit 2-inch-by-2-inch photographs. The price will vary depending on the service provider. Even though you can take your photos, it is always a good idea to use a photography service. 

Travel Expenses

You will not get reimbursed for any costs you spend on going for a green card interview, biometrics appointment, or medical exam. The amount you spend travelling to government agencies to get official documents is also not refunded. 

Shipping Costs

You will also pay for postage and mailing at different stages of the green card application process. 

How Should I Make these Payments?

You will make the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) immigrant fee online, but most payments are made through the mail or in person. Each fee is made as a separate payment. You should, therefore, avoid making one large payment. You can pay the USCIS immigrant fee using the following methods:

  • Credit card
  • debit card with a Visa or Mastercard logo
  • Prepaid debit card: you can only use one card, and you must have enough money to pay for yourself and your family members.
  • US bank account, Automated Clearing House (ACH)-you'll need a US checking account number or routing number to make payment with your US bank account. 

You'll be given the following:

  • A-Number, that is, the letter A then, followed by eight or nine numbers
  • DOS Case ID usually has three letters that are followed by nine or 10 numbers
  • Instructions on how to pay the immigrant fee
  • Immigrant data summary
  • Sealed immigrant visa packet

Green Card Application Supporting Fees

Applicants for a green card must submit an application form, a biometric services fee, and a fee for the supporting document. The biometric services fee is used to cover the costs of collecting and processing fingerprints and photographs. The fee for the supporting document is used to cover the costs of the adjudication. 

What Kinds of Family-Based Green Cards are There?

A family-based green card allows applicants to unite with their relatives in the United States. It is only for close relatives like parents, spouses, siblings, or children. Distant relatives like cousins and grandparents don't qualify. When you get a green card through your family, it means that you can permanently relocate to the United States. You can go to school, work in the US, and live in any state of your choice. Also, you are permitted to move in and out of the United States for a specific duration, and you can have a US driver's license. You can additionally apply for US citizenship after a few years. 

There are a few different types of family-based green cards. The most common is the immediate relative visa, which is for spouses, children, and parents of US citizens. There is also the family preference visa, which is for other family members of US citizens, such as siblings and grandparents. Finally, there is the diversity visa, which is for people from countries with low rates of immigration into the United States.

Are you interested in securing a family-based green card, or do you plan on coming with family members? You have to petition for more than one type of family-based green card. It, therefore, is crucial to know the kinds of green cards for the family to choose the appropriate one. The family-based green card falls into two broad categories:

Immediate Relatives

The green card is meant for the immediate relatives of US citizens. One of the benefits of this type is that there is no obligatory waiting period once a petition gets approved. The following are the five immediate relative green cards:

IR-1: Spouses of US Citizens

The spouses of US citizens fall under the IR-1 category. It also applies to same-sex spouses. The green card is issued only to legally married spouses. You should never arrange a marriage solely for immigration. 

IR-2: For Unmarried Children Under 21 for US Citizens

In the IR-2 category, the biological children of US citizens are below 21 years. Adopted children also qualify for the family-based green card if they:

  • Are under 21 years and not married
  • Are fully adopted
  • Live outside the United States
  • Above 21 years but still under the Child Status Protection Act
  • Have been living with the adoptive parents for not less than two years.

IR-3: For an Orphan Who has Been Adopted by a US Citizen

Any children that have been adopted outside the United States fall into the IR-3 category. To be eligible, the adoption must be recognized in the adopted child's country of origin and the United States. One parent must also have physical contact with the child during adoption. 

IR-4: It is for orphans being taken to the United States for adoption

The IR-4 category is for children abroad but is yet to be adopted by a US citizen. 

IR-5: It is for the Parents of a US Citizen Who is 21 Years and Above

The final category for immediate relatives' family-based green cards is for US citizen parents. However, sponsors must be above 21 years and live in the United States. Adoptive parents and stepparents are also eligible for the IR-5.

Family Preference 

The family preference green card is for non-immediate relatives of US citizens. Unlike the immediate relative green cards, the family preference green cards have backlogged priority date waiting times. The waiting times can be several years. The number of immigrants in the family preference category is limited every fiscal year. There are four categories of non-immediate relatives' green cards.

F-1: For unmarried children above 21 years of US citizen

The F-1 category includes the single children of US citizens who are still older than 21. The waiting period can be from seven to 20 years. 

 F-2: Children under 21 years, not married children over 21, and spouses of lawful permanent residents

The F-2 category has long waiting times since the number of family-based green cards issued is limited to 114,200 per year. There are two subcategories:

  • F-2A: Spouses and single children-the subcategory includes spouses and children yet to be married below 21 years. The waiting period is between one and three years.
  • F-2B: Single adult children-children who are above 21 years and still not married fall into the f-2B category. The waiting period is about seven years. Adopted children and stepchildren also fall into this category.

F-3: Married children of US citizens, their spouses, and children

The married children of US citizens fall under the F-3 category. The wait time for the F-3 category can be 12 to over 20 years. 

F-4: Siblings of US citizens

The fourth category consists of the siblings of US citizens, their spouses, and children. It has very long wait periods of between 14 and 20 years. 

Can I Get a Waiver for My Family-Based Green Card Fees?

Yes, you can apply for a fee waiver if you can't afford the fees for your family-based green card. You'll have to provide evidence that you can't afford the fees, and the waiver will only be granted if it's in the best interest of the United States. Alternatively, you can apply for a fee waiver for various services, including biometrics fees, application of naturalization, and adjustment of status.

Not only that, but you'll have to submit Form I-912, a request for a fee waiver, with form N-400 and supporting documents — you don't have to submit any fee for Form N-400. If your application gets approved, the biometrics and filing fee will be waived. 

Some applicants cannot pay the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) fees, which is why there is a fee waiver for certain benefit types. However, the fee waiver will only be approved when you show that you cannot pay the filing fees. The following are grounds on which you can be eligible for a fee waiver

  1. You or your spouse receives the government benefit due to low income- means-tested benefit.
  2. You have financial hardships like unemployment or huge medical expenses.
  3. The total annual household income is below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Multiply the federal poverty guidelines amounts by 1.5. You have to calculate your household size by determining the people depending on your income or the head of the household. To calculate your household size, you must count yourself, the head of your household, your spouse living with you if married, and family members who depend on your household income, such as children who are not married below 21 years, children not married who are full-time students, children who are single and are physically disabled or mentally impaired, parents living with you, and any other dependents on your federal income tax return 

Talk to an Immigration Attorney

If you are looking for help with immigration issues, it is important to talk to an immigration attorney. A law firm can help you understand your options and guide you through the process.

Attorney's Fees

If you hire an attorney to help you with the green card application process, you will pay legal fees. Most attorneys quote a flat fee. You can pay part of it at the beginning and the remaining at the end.

The attorney fees are charges for legal services. The fees vary depending on the lawyer's experience and the type of legal services offered. You'll have to pay legal fees in advance, which can sometimes be refunded. The attorney fee depends on the following factors:

  • The number of people applying as a family unit
  • Whether there are complications that the attorney has to help you analyze
  • Whether you need to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility, such as past immigration violations or health reasons
  • Whether the attorney charges separately for phone calls, plane fare, mailing, photocopying

Contact us today for more information about green card fees.