How to Pay USCIS Filing Fees

Updated on April 11, 2024

At a Glance

  • USCIS filing fees, imposed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, cover a range of immigration services such as changing immigrant status or obtaining visas.
  • Payment methods for these fees include cash, money order, credit/debit cards, or online payment.
  • The fees vary depending on the type of form, and certain forms may be eligible for fee waivers.
  • Forms can be submitted either online or by mail, each method offering different payment options.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS is the agency responsible for handling incoming immigrants. Even though it is a state-run government agency, it charges fees for its services. Except for certain types of applications, every applicant is required to pay the USCIS fees to proceed with the immigration process. In this article, we’ll explain how to pay the USCIS filing fees.

What Are USCIS Filing Fees?

The filing fees are the fees charged by USCIS to the immigrants who want to use its services. If approved by the agency, the immigrant can collect the visa and enter the United States legally. Its services aren’t meant for new entrants. It serves the entire immigrant community throughout their life cycle in the US.

For example, when you need to change your immigrant status, you’d most likely approach USCIS. Also, other fees would include medical check-up fees, biometric fees, or other services that might be required for that particular form or something you have requested separately.

The fees are usually paid at the time of applying. For example, if you came in on a tourist visa but want to get it changed to a student visa, you must apply for a change of status form, which is Form I-539. Along with this form, you’re supposed to send in the USCIS filing fees. Similarly, if you want to get an H1B visa, you must pay the required fees.

Fees vary by the form you’re applying. Some forms are free of charge. Also, USCIS allows you to get fee waivers on certain forms if you’re unable to pay the fees. Form I-129 is an example of that.

What Are The Different Ways To Pay The Fees?

The USCIS offers different payment methods to pay the fees. But the payment method also depends on the center you’re filing the fees (Embassy, USCIS designated center), and whether on online or offline mode. The payment methods accepted are:

  • Direct cash deposit
  • Money order
  • Credit/debit cards
  • Online Payment

If all the methods are available at a center, you’re free to choose a particular one as per your convenience. Direct cash is the easiest option. If cash is accepted, then you can simply hand over the money to the designated official. He or she will then hand you over a receipt as proof of your payment.

How To Pay The Fees With A Money Order Or Personal Check?

Money order and personal checks are excellent most common ways immigrants pay the application or processing fees. If you’re paying using these two methods, then the fees must be drawn from a registered financial institution. If you’re paying from outside the US, then you should check which bank checks are eligible and which are not. If you’re paying from within the US, then generally checks from all major and regional banks are eligible.

It would help if you also made the money order payable to someone. If you’re outside the country, you need to get in touch with the US Consulate in your country. If you’re located inside, then make it payable to “US Department of Homeland Security.” You must spell exactly the way it is and not use abbreviations like DHS, USDHS. All of these things will be mentioned on the application instructions page.

You’ll also have to provide exact details like:

  • Name
  • Account holder’s address
  • Phone number
  • Date
  • Amount
  • Purpose of payment

You must either use ink or type it on the computer. Also, provide your signature wherever asked for. Unsigned forms and checks are rejected.

How To Pay USCIS Filing Fees With A Credit Card Or Debit Card

A few years back, the USCIS started accepting credit cards along with debit cards. So now, you can pay using credit or debit cards at a USCIS center provided they have this facility. Most Lockboxes now have this facility. But the USCIS Field Office does not have this payment option yet.

If you’re paying using a credit card, you’ll have to file an additional form, which is Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transaction. With this form, the USCIS won’t be able to charge your credit card for fees. For debit cards, this form is not necessary.

How To Pay USCIS Filing Fees With A USCIS Online Payment

If you’re filing an electronic form, then USCIS allows online payment options. You can pay the fees with a debit, credit, pre-paid, or e-wallet. After you’ve completed a form and hit submit, the page will automatically redirect you to an online payment portal. This portal will guide you through the process, and you just need to follow along.

But just make sure that the site you’re paying fees at is, which is the website of the Department of Treasury. If you see a different website, you should abort the payment or, as advised by the payment portal. Many scam websites pretend to be a USCIS website but are used to steal your money.

Can I Get Money Back If USCIS Denies The Application?

Certain filing fees are refundable, while others are not. This will be mentioned in the application form instructions page. If it is non-refundable, then you’ll not receive a refund if your application is rejected. If it is refundable, then you’ll receive your money back. Filing fees and biometric fees are generally non-refundable. Processing fees might be refundable in some cases. The form’s instructions page will provide more details into this.

Filing Forms With USCIS

USCIS accepts completed forms in two ways. Depending on the instructions, you need to adopt the one that’s right for your application process. Those two ways are:

Filing Online

Now more and more forms are being filed online. This offers many benefits, such as faster processing, accuracy, and storage. If you’re filing a form online, then you can pay via an online payment solution. The entire process is much simpler.

Filing By Mail

The second way is to send the copies via mail to the required address. You need the services of a courier company like DHL and FedEx. If you’re in the United States, then you can use US Postal Services to send your copies. For this method, you’d have to send a personal check or money order. If not, then you can pay via cash or debit/credit card when you visit the center in-person for interviews or verification.

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 Paying the fees is mandatory wherever applicable. While fee waivers are also available, but then you’ll come under the scanner for being a Public Charge. So you should stay away from fee waivers if possible. Finally, always refer to the instructions page for the exact payment process and amount.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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