USCIS recently issued a new final regulation that goes into effect on February 1, 2013 specifying that Immigrant Visa recipients must pay a new and additional “Immigrant Fee” of $165.00. Applicants who receive Immigrant Visas at US consulates and embassies abroad will be required to pay the new fee online before they travel to the US. See www.pay.gov. The $165.00 fee covers the cost of green card production and other visa related services by USCIS associated with State Department visa processing.
Once an Immigrant Visa is issued on or after February 1, 2013, the visa holder has six months to use the visa to enter the US. Upon admission with the visa, a plastic green card is received within a few days to a couple of weeks. The individual arrives at the border with a package from the State Department that will now include a notice about payment of the fees or a receipt for having previously paid the fees. Although failure to pay the fee will not stop a person from being admitted into the US as a new permanent resident, the actual green card production will be held up until the fee is paid. Fees must be paid out of a US bank account and are to be paid online.
Exempt from the Immigrant Fee are Hague Convention adoptees. Stay tuned for more details about how to make this payment.