By Kristina Karpinski
Beginning on February 1, 2013, individuals issued an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy will be required to pay an Immigrant Visa DHS Domestic Processing Fee (USCIS Immigrant Fee) of $165.00. This fee is separate from the immigrant visa fee paid to the Department of State. The new fee covers the cost incurred by USCIS of processing the immigrant visa packet and producing and delivering the permanent resident card once the visa holder is admitted to the United States.
After receiving the immigrant visa packet from DOS, the visa holder must pay the fee online through the USCIS website with a debit or credit card or a checking account from a U.S. financial institution. The DOS will provide visa holders with a USCIS handout that will include the immigrant visa holder's Alien number and Case ID number, plus instructions on how to submit the payment. Once the fee is paid, the payer should print a receipt and keep it for his or her records. The fee does not have to be paid by the applicant himself or herself, but can be paid by any other person on the applicant's behalf.
If the USCIS Immigrant Fee is not paid, the visa holder will still be admitted to the United States and receive a passport stamp valid for one year evidencing lawful permanent residence status. However, the new resident will not receive an I-551 Permanent Resident Card until the required fee is paid. Adopted children who immigrate under the inter-country adoption programs and K visa holders are exempt from paying this fee.