If you are going through consular processing for an immigrant visa, there is an immigrant visa fee attached to your application. This means that in order to receive a green card once you reach the United States, you have to pay your immigrant visa fee. In the U.S. immigration system, green card applicants have the option of paying their immigrant visa fee when they arrive in the United States, or before they arrive. Depending on when you pay will also greatly affect the wait time you will experience in having your green card issued and mailed to you.
Let’s take a closer look at this process:
The USCIS notes that green applicants who pay their immigrant visa fee before they depart for the United States will generally have a faster processing time in terms of having their green card mailed to their address. For example, once you arrive in the U.S. given that you have already paid the visa fee, it will then take up to 90 days from the date you entered to receive your green card (permanent resident card).
However, if you arrive in the U.S. and have not paid your immigrant visa fee, the USCIS will not mail you your green card. In order to receive your green card, you are required to submit this payment online. The link where you can begin this process can be found here: https://my.uscis.gov/uscis-immigrant-fee/. Any information you received, such as your A-number, and DOS Case ID will be needed in order to submit a payment online. If you are paying the fee after you have arrived in the United States, then it will take up to 90 days after receipt of payment to receive your green card.
There are a few exemptions for the immigrant visa fee, although most immigrants will need to pay the fee ($220). These exemptions include the following:
- Children who entered the United States via the Hague or orphan adoption programs
- Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants
- Returning lawful permanent residents
- K non-immigrants (fiancé visa holders coming to the U.S. to marry a U.S. citizen).
Once you have paid the immigrant visa fee, if required, you will also be able to track the status of your green card via the following USCIS link: https://www.uscis.gov/forms/filing-fees/uscis-immigrant-fee#Track_Card_Status. If more than 90 days have passed and you are worried that your green card has not been sent to the right U.S. address, you can also access the online help form via the link above to send a secure message to the USCIS regarding your specific situation.