Beginning February 1, 2013, all foreign nationals granted an immigrant visa and seeking permanent residency in the United States will be required to pay a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) fee of USD165 (“Immigrant Fee”).  The USCIS Immigrant Fee will apply to any individual who receives an immigrant visa package from a United States consulate or embassy abroad, including Canada and Mexico.  Individuals entering the United States under intercountry adoption programs or admitted under the Orphan or Hague Adoptions Process are currently exempt from the Immigrant Fee.

The Immigrant Fee will be implemented to cover the costs of processing and filing the immigrant visa packages and Permanent Resident Card production for immigrant visa holders who receive visa packages from the Department of State (“DOS”) and are seeking admission into the United States.  In other words, this new fee only applies to individuals who consular process an immigrant visa application.  Applicants will be required to pay the Immigrant Fee in addition to the applicable DOS visa application processing fees required for the immigrant visa application.

The Immigrant Fee should be paid by the applicant or on the applicant’s behalf through the USCIS website, following the applicant’s receipt of the visa package from the DOS and prior to the applicant’s departure for the United States.  DOS will provide applicants with specific information at the individual’s consular interview on how to submit the Immigrant Fee payment.  Applicants will not receive a Permanent Resident Card until the Immigrant Fee payment is made.  Although failure to pay the Immigrant Fee will not immediately affect the applicant’s status, it will result in delays in obtaining the Permanent Resident Card and it may make it difficult for the individual to demonstrate compliance with alien registration requirements. Individuals who do not pay the Immigrant Fee prior to entering the United States may still receive a passport stamp showing lawful admission and permanent resident status upon entering the United States.  However, the stamp will only be valid for up to one year and may make it difficult for the individual to show that he or she is authorized to accept employment in the United States or to return to the United States following temporary foreign travel.