Understanding The Cost Of Obtaining A Marriage Green Card

How much does it cost to apply for a marriage green card in the U.S.?

The cost to apply for a marriage-based green card (Adjustment of Status) in the United States can vary based on the specific forms you need to submit and your individual circumstances. Here are some of the common fees associated with the marriage green card application process:

Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) Filing Fee: This fee is paid by the U.S. citizen or green card holder spouse who is petitioning for their foreign spouse. The filing fee for Form I-130 is $535.

Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) Filing Fee: This fee is paid by the foreign spouse seeking to adjust their status to a permanent resident (green card holder). The filing fee can vary depending on the applicant’s age:

For applicants aged 14 to 78, the standard filing fee is $1,225, which includes the Form I-485 fee ($1,140) and the biometric services fee ($85).

For applicants under 14 or 79 and older, the filing fee is $750, which includes the Form I-485 fee ($750) without the biometric services fee.

Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) Filing Fee: This fee is paid if the foreign spouse wants to apply for work authorization while their green card application is pending. The filing fee for Form I-765 is $550.

Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document) Filing Fee: This fee is paid if the foreign spouse wants to apply for a travel document (advance parole) to travel outside the U.S. while their green card application is pending. The filing fee for Form I-131 is $575.

Please note that these fee amounts are based on the fee schedule and are subject to change.

It’s essential to check the most up-to-date fee information on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website before submitting your application. Additionally, some applicants may be eligible for fee waivers or reduced fees based on their financial circumstances.

As the fee structure and immigration regulations can change, I recommend visiting the official USCIS website or consulting with an immigration attorney to ensure you have accurate and current information regarding the costs associated with applying for a marriage-based green card in the U.S.

Are there any additional costs associated with filing a spousal visa if the beneficiary is abroad?

Yes, there can be additional costs associated with filing a spousal visa when the beneficiary is abroad:

In addition to the standard filing fees for the visa application and related forms, there are other expenses that you should be aware of. Keep in mind that these costs can vary based on factors such as the specific visa category, the country where the beneficiary is located, and individual circumstances. Here are some potential additional costs:

  • Medical Examination: The foreign beneficiary is typically required to undergo a medical examination by a designated panel physician approved by the U.S. embassy or consulate. The cost of the medical examination varies by location and can range from a few hundred to several hundred dollars.
  • Travel Expenses: If you, the petitioner, need to travel to your spouse’s country for the marriage visa interview or other related processes, you’ll need to consider the cost of airfare, accommodations, meals, and transportation.
  • Translation and Document Authentication: If any documents you submit are not in English, they will likely need to be translated. Additionally, some documents may need to be authenticated by the relevant authorities in the beneficiary’s country before submission.
  • Travel Document (if applicable): If the foreign beneficiary requires a travel document (advance parole) to travel to the U.S. while their visa application is pending, there may be costs associated with applying for the travel document.
  • Supporting Documentation Costs: There may be costs associated with obtaining required supporting documentation, such as obtaining official copies of birth certificates, marriage certificates, police certificates, etc.
  • Passport Fees: The beneficiary will need to have a valid passport for the visa process, and passport fees are typically paid to the relevant authorities in their country.
  • Biometrics Fee (if applicable): Some visa categories require biometric information to be collected as part of the application process. There could be a separate fee associated with this.
  • Legal and Translation Services: Depending on your circumstances, you might need to engage legal or translation services to help you prepare your application, translate documents, or navigate any specific legal requirements.
  • Adjustment of Status Fees: If the beneficiary enters the U.S. on a spousal visa and later applies for Adjustment of Status (green card) within the U.S., there will be additional fees associated with that process.

It’s important to thoroughly review the U.S. embassy or consulate’s instructions for the specific visa category you are applying for. They will provide guidance on the required fees and procedures. Additionally, you should factor in any additional costs that may arise due to specific requirements in the beneficiary’s country of residence.

How to reduce the cost of marriage green card application?

Reducing the cost of a marriage-based green card application involves careful planning, understanding the fee structure, and exploring options to optimize your expenses. While some costs are fixed, there are strategies you can consider to manage and minimize the overall expenses. Here are some ways to reduce the cost of a marriage green card application:

  • Research and Plan Ahead:
    • Thoroughly research the required forms, fees, and supporting documents for the application process.
    • Start the process early to avoid rush fees and to have time to explore cost-saving options.
  • Eligibility for Fee Waivers:
    • Some applicants may be eligible for fee waivers if they can demonstrate financial hardship. Review the USCIS guidelines to see if you qualify.
  • Submit Accurate and Complete Documentation:
    • Ensure that you submit all required forms and documentation accurately and completely the first time to avoid any rejections or additional processing fees.
  • Consolidate Documents:
    • Organize your documents efficiently to avoid duplication and streamline the process, potentially reducing translation and authentication costs.
  • Bundle Applications:
    • If you’re eligible to apply for multiple benefits at the same time (such as employment authorization and travel documents), bundling them can reduce processing fees.
  • DIY vs. Legal Help:
    • While using an immigration attorney can be helpful, consider whether you can manage parts of the application on your own to save on legal fees.
  • Choose the Right Visa Category:
    • Choose the visa category that best suits your circumstances to avoid unnecessary fees or complications.
  • Affidavit of Support Strategies:
    • If the petitioner doesn’t meet the income requirement, consider using joint sponsors or assets to meet the financial obligations.
  • Travel Document Necessity:
    • If the foreign spouse doesn’t need to travel during the application process, you may be able to save on travel document (advance parole) fees.
  • Consular Processing vs. Adjustment of Status:
    • Depending on your circumstances, one option may be more cost-effective than the other. Consult an attorney to determine the best path.
  • Avoid RFEs:
    • Carefully follow USCIS guidelines to prevent Requests for Evidence (RFEs), which could lead to additional expenses.
  • Check for Fee Changes:
    • USCIS fees can change periodically, so make sure you’re using the most up-to-date fee schedule when calculating costs.
  • Comparison Shop for Services:
    • If you’re using translation or document authentication services, compare prices from reputable providers.
  • Do Not Overpay:
    • Be cautious of potential scams or unauthorized services that charge excessive fees for forms that are available for free from USCIS.

Remember that while it’s important to manage costs, immigration applications are complex and have significant implications for your future. Consider seeking advice from an experienced immigration attorney who can help you navigate the process, make informed decisions, and minimize the risk of unnecessary expenses.

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