Complete Guide to NVC Fees

Updated on April 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • NVC processes approved immigrant visa petitions and requires fees for further processing.
  • Fees include the Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee and the Affidavit of Support Fee.
  • NVC fees must be paid separately online or by mail with a U.S. bank account.
  • The petitioner usually pays the Affidavit of Support Fee, while the visa beneficiary pays the Immigrant Visa Application fee or designates an agent to pay on their behalf.

Did you recently win a Green Card in the visa diversity lottery? Or has your immigrant visa petition (filed on your behalf) been approved by the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services)? In both these cases, you could expect to get a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) soon. Maybe you already received one. Do you know why it’s so important?

What is the NVC? Why are they contacting you and what do you have to do next? All of these questions can feel overwhelming! We’ll help explain some of the important things you need to know about (like the NVC fee) to keep you moving forward in this process.

What is the National Visa Center (NVC)?

The National Visa Center (NVC) processes the approved immigrant visa petitions received from the USCIS. They retain the cases until a consular officer abroad or in the U.S. (depending on the case details) is ready to adjudicate them. The NVC requires a fee before any more progress can take place in your immigration efforts. Let’s see what the NVC fee is for.

Please note, the waiting time for each case is different. It might take a while before a visa becomes available, or it could take long before your priority date is current. That is especially the case if you’ve been on a B1 visa and are waiting for an employment-related visa to become available.

What are the NVC Fees?

Just like an F1 visa beneficiary has to pay their registration fees at university before they could be registered, these fees are required before your visa could be processed further by the NVC. The NVC fee goes to the processing of your application. You or someone applied on your behalf for an immigrant visa and now it’s been approved. You received your NVC welcome letter and in it, they mention something about fees you need to pay.

Two fees mainly form part of this step in your immigration journey.

The first is for obvious reasons, to process your visa application. The USCIS oversees the immigration matters but the NVC has to confirm whether a visa is available for your case. The second helps to facilitate the processing of the Affidavit of Support required in your application. Usually, the person who petitioned on your behalf also promises to support you financially if you don’t yet have the means to do so yourself.

You can go onto the CEAC (Consular Electronic Application Center) website to pay these fees. The website will not allow you to pay both fees at the same time. You’ll have to log in and pay them separately. You need a U.S. based bank account to settle the fees. It may take up to a week for the payments to register on your case. Only after it has been registered would you be able to proceed to the next step in your immigration efforts. You won’t have access to a DS-260 form until the NVC has noted your payment. But who has to pay these fees?

Who Has to Pay NVC Fees?

The Affidavit of Support (AOS) fee usually goes to the petitioner. So the person who filed the immigrant petition on behalf of the immigrant has to cover the AOS fee. You could possibly pay more than one AOS simultaneously if you submit a cashier’s check as payment. Add all AOS fee bills into the same return envelope with a check and mail it to the appropriate processing center. The petitioner can ask the visa beneficiary (the immigrant) to pay the AOS fee if they wish.

The other NVC fee we are looking at here is the Immigrant Visa Application fee. The visa beneficiary has to settle this bill or they could designate an agent who settles the fee on their behalf. They need to indicate on their Form DS-3032 an Agent of Choice and Address. This notifies them who will settle this NVC fee.

Remember to keep the payment receipts of both types of fees. You may need it as a reference in future inquiries. It may also prove helpful when you go for your visa interview.

Fees for Visa Services

There are so many visa fee types. You could be the beneficiary of a J1 visa intended for exchange students. We are not discussing nonimmigrant visas here and therefore will not look at that category of visa fees. We are just going to delve into the two important fees included in the NVC fee group.

Please note, the fees may change over time. You can visit the U.S. Department of State website to note any changes.

Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee

There are several different visa categories each with its own fee. We’ll have to break them down in different categories to see the fee of each. Let’s take a look.

Immediate Relative and Family Preference Applications

These visas are processed only if an I-130, I-600, or I-800 petition has been approved. As mentioned earlier this is for the visa beneficiary or the agent’s account (depending on who’s designated as the one responsible for the fee). This fee is $325.

Employment-Based Applications

The immigrant gets a visa filed on their behalf based on reasons related to their employment. This fee only comes after an I-140 or I-526 has been approved. The fee is $345.

Other Immigrant Visa Applications

This category has a few types of petitions. It includes approved I-360 self petitioners, special immigrant visa applicants, returning resident applicants (SB-1), and all others except Diversity Visa Lottery winners. The fee is $205.

Please note Iraqi and Afghan applicants who qualify for a special immigrant visa could have their fee reduced to zero. They would have no fee to get their visa processed. Please ask your immigration lawyer how this could apply if you are eligible. It’s almost like being a U visa beneficiary who gets some help from the government in the process.

Diversity Visa Lottery

Those who get their visa applications approved through Diversity Visa Lottery also need to pay an NVC fee. Their visa application fee for NVC purposes is $330.

Affidavit of Support Fee

The AOS fee has to be covered by the petitioner unless the petitioner asks the visa beneficiary to cover the cost. The Affidavit of Support fee is $120.

Payment Options

You have two payment options through which you can settle these bills. You could pay online on the CEAC website or you could settle this NVC fee by mail. Note which address you need to mail your payment to.

As mentioned earlier, always remember to keep your payment receipts in a safe place. You may need it in the future as a reference or proof of your payments.

NVC Fee Frequently Asked Questions

We understand you might have some more questions. Perhaps you are a TN visa owner and in pursuit of U.S. residency. You probably have a different set of circumstances that could be forcing your hand in a different direction. So here are a few frequently asked questions with helpful answers.

Can fees be paid at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate?

Unfortunately, no. An NVC fee must be paid to the NVC. It’s a different department of government and therefore has a different bank account. The NVC has to be the recipient of your payments.

Can fees be paid from a bank outside of the U.S.?

No, all payments must be made in U.S. dollars that come from a U.S. registered bank account. This is why you could designate an agent to pay fees on your behalf. The agent should be in the U.S. and settle the bill on your behalf through a U.S. bank account.

Can fees be paid via the phone?

No, the NVC won’t accept payment over the phone. You must settle it online on the CEAC website or alternatively by mail with something accepted by the NVC like a cashier’s check.

Can the AOS applicant pay the fees?

Yes, the applicant could be held liable for the AOS fee. Both the petitioner or the visa beneficiary could pay the bill. The bill would naturally go to the petitioner, but they are within their rights to ask the visa beneficiary to settle it.

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Moving to the U.S. holds some exciting prospects! You become part of the biggest economy on the planet. You get to build your own American Dream. Citizenship will grant you a really useful passport that grants you a visa-free entry into many countries. But before we get there you may have to settle a few immigration fees.

After your petition has been approved the NVC will contact you with a welcome letter. This letter would also inform you about the two fees that require payment. The Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee and the Affidavit of Support Fee.

Now you know what these fees are. You also know who’s responsible for each. Follow the tips provided above and pay your NVC fee. It will allow your immigration processing to continue. Do it today and take one step closer to becoming a U.S. resident.

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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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