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Mar 08, 2024 | Nancy Chen

USCIS is Increasing Green Card Application Fees By Thousands of Dollars: How To Prepare

An overview to help you understand the revised immigration application fee schedule and its impact on you.

The United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) has proposed increasing its fees since last year. A series of announcements have come out this year regarding the fee increase, leading to much confusion. Many in our audience are interested in knowing what the new fee schedule looks like and how it will affect their green card application. This guide will answer your questions.

Why does USCIS want to increase fees?

According to its official website, the last implemented USCIS fee schedule took effect over seven years ago in 2016. Some 96% of the department’s funding comes from filing fees. USCIS aims to “cover the cost of doing business and better avoid the accumulation of future backlogs” with higher fees. The new fees will come into effect on April 1, 2024.

What is the new fee schedule in general?

The USCIS published the final rule for adjusting fees on January 30 this year. They have detailed information on the respective fees of filing online or by mail, and also include biometric service fees. 

In general, the newly established fees are limited to no more than the increase in the Consumer Price Index since 2016 (26%). Filing online is usually $50 cheaper than filing by mail. According to the website, the final fee rule maintains fee increases to a modest level for naturalization and adoption applications and petitions. It also “codifies existing fee waiver eligibility for low-income and vulnerable populations and expands fee exemptions for certain humanitarian and other beneficiaries and the reduced fee option for certain individuals apply for naturalization.” 

Compared with a previously proposed rule, every price in the final rule equals or less than the proposed one. Special discounts are offered to nonprofits and small employers. The department is also expanding fee exemptions for Special Immigrant Juveniles, victims of human trafficking (T visa), crime (U visa), and domestic violence under the Violence Against Women Act, U.S. military servicemembers and Afghan allies, and families pursuing international adoption. For more details, you can check the “Fee Waivers, Exemptions, and Reductions” section.

In addition, there will be no separate biometric services fee for most applicants.

Green card application fees increase

One of the most notable changes widely reported in the media is the hike in application fees for Green Card. For example, for a family- or marriage-based green card, the following forms are required: I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, I-131, Application for Travel Document and I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, immigration lawyer Rakhel Milstein explains in an email to Documented. When submitting the Green Card application, forms I-131 and I-765 are free. If the petitioner is age 14 to 78, the filing fee for I-485 and I-130 is $1,225 and $535, respectively, totaling $1,760. Under the new schedule, an individual must pay separately for the four forms. Again, if the petitioner is age 14 to 78 filing a family-based Green Card online, the total becomes $3,165, comprised of $625 (I-130) + $630 (I-131) + $1,440 (I-485) + $470 (I-765).

If you are eligible and seek to become a U.S. citizen by filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization online, you will need to pay $710, including the biometric services. This is $15 less than the old schedule. If your household income is between 150% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG), then you will need to pay $380, $25 down from the previous fee.

For international students, you may want to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation. Then you need to file form I-765. The new fee is $470, compared to the previous fee of $410 without biometric services, which in most cases are exempted.

Read More: F-1 OPT: How To Work With a Student Visa After Graduation

For those seeking jobs in the U.S. who need to file an H1-B visa with form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, the new fee is $780, a $320 increase from the previous one. The costs for small employers and nonprofits remain the same, which is $460. For O visas, the new fee for Form I-129 will become $1,055 which is more than double the previous fee. For small employers and nonprofits, it will be $530.

Read More: O-1 Visa Requirements, Cost and How to Apply

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