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Navigating the Path to a Green Card Through Marriage: Unveiling the Costs

The cost of obtaining a marriage-based green card in the United States can vary depending on several factors. Here are some fees that comprise the marriage green card cost if the spouse is in the U.S.:

  • Filing Fees:
    • Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative): The U.S. citizen spouse files this form to establish the qualifying relationship. The filing fee is $535
    • Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status): This form is filed by the foreign spouse to adjust their status to that of a permanent resident. The filing fee is $1,140, and an additional biometric services fee of $85 may apply.
  • Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support):
    • The U.S. citizen spouse must submit this form to demonstrate that they have the financial means to support the immigrant spouse. There is no filing fee for this form, but it is a crucial part of the process.
  • Medical Examination:
    • The foreign spouse is typically required to undergo a medical examination by an approved civil surgeon. The cost of the medical examination can vary.
  • Attorney Fees:
    • Many individuals choose to hire an immigration attorney to help with the application process. Attorney fees can vary widely.

It’s important to note that these fees can change, and additional costs may arise depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Additionally, USCIS periodically adjusts its fees, so it’s advisable to check the official USCIS website or consult with an immigration attorney for the most up-to-date information.

Marriage green card cost if the spouse is outside the US

If the spouse seeking a green card is residing outside the United States, the process involves a different set of forms and fees. The primary steps for obtaining a marriage-based green card from outside the U.S. typically include:

  • I-130 Petition for Alien Relative:
    • The U.S. citizen spouse must file Form I-130 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to establish the qualifying relationship. The Form I-130 filing fee is $535
  • National Visa Center (NVC) Processing Fee:
    • After the I-130 petition is approved, the case is transferred to the National Visa Center. The petitioner (U.S. citizen spouse) is then required to pay a processing fee to the NVC. The NVC processing fee for an immigrant visa application is $325.
  • Consular Processing Fee:
    • The foreign spouse will need to pay a fee for processing the immigrant visa at the U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country. This fee varies by location.
  • Medical Examination:
    • The foreign spouse is typically required to undergo a medical examination by an approved panel physician. The cost of the medical examination can vary.
  • Travel Costs:
    • The foreign spouse will need to cover the costs of traveling to the U.S. for the visa interview and subsequent entry.
  • Affidavit of Support (I-864) and Financial Documentation:
    • The U.S. citizen spouse must submit the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) and provide evidence of financial ability to support the immigrant spouse. Form I-864 filing fee is $120

How to reduce the cost of a marriage green card application?

Reducing the cost of a marriage green card application involves careful planning and consideration of various factors. Here are some tips that may help in minimizing expenses:

  • Prepare and Submit Forms Yourself:
    • While some people choose to hire immigration attorneys, you can save money by preparing and submitting the required forms yourself. Make sure to carefully follow the instructions provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and other relevant authorities.
  • Avoid Unnecessary Services:
    • Some individuals may choose to hire immigration consultants or agencies that offer services beyond what is necessary. Be cautious about unnecessary services that could add to the overall cost.
  • Research Fee Waivers:
    • In certain situations, individuals may be eligible for fee waivers. USCIS provides fee waivers for certain immigration benefits based on an inability to pay. Check USCIS guidelines to see if you qualify for a fee waiver and follow the appropriate procedures.
  • Conduct Thorough Research:
    • Be well-informed about the immigration process. Familiarize yourself with the requirements and procedures to avoid mistakes that could lead to additional costs or delays.
  • Utilize USCIS Resources:
    • Take advantage of free resources provided by USCIS. The USCIS website offers detailed information, guides, and forms that can assist you in the application process.
  • Consider DIY Support Services:
    • Some online platforms provide support for filling out immigration forms at a lower cost than hiring an attorney. These services are not a substitute for legal advice but can assist with form preparation.
  • Shop Around for Medical Examination:
    • The cost of the medical examination can vary. Consider shopping around for an approved panel physician who offers competitive rates.
  • Budget for Travel and Other Miscellaneous Costs:
    • If the foreign spouse is outside the U.S., budget carefully for travel expenses, including the cost of the visa interview, medical examination, and any other miscellaneous expenses.
  • Stay Informed About Fee Changes:
    • USCIS periodically adjusts its fees. Stay informed about any fee changes by regularly checking the official USCIS website.
  • Plan Ahead:
    • Start the application process early to avoid expedited processing fees or last-minute expenses. Planning ahead can also help you budget for the various costs associated with the green card application.

 

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