U.S. immigration application forms are very easy to obtain -- you should not have to pay anyone for them. They are all created by the U.S. government; usually either U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the U.S. State Department or one of its overseas consulates. Most immigration forms are available for free download at the website of the relevant U.S. government agency.
However, you do want to make sure you are using the latest version of the relevant form. The U.S. immigration authorities revise these forms often. Even if you start out with the right version, by the time you’re done preparing all the supporting documents and are ready to submit your application, chances are the form will have gone out of date. In that situation, the government could refuse to accept your application, and will send it back to you to do over.
The main sources for immigration application forms are:
• U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, by either visiting one of its local offices (though you will probably have to make an appointment first); through its website, www.uscis.gov (click the “Forms” tab, then scroll down until you find the form you need -- they are usually identified by numbers, which are found at the bottom of the actual form page); or by calling 800-870-3676, and
• the U.S. State Department, through its website, www.state.gov (enter the search term “forms”).
It’s getting harder and harder to visit your local USCIS office. There are a few times when you might wish to visit a USCIS office in person, for example, to pick up local forms or ask about delays. However, to reduce the long lines, the agency has established a program called “InfoPass,” requiring visitors to make appointments before they arrive. Check the USCIS website (www.uscis.gov; click “Make an Appointment (Infopass)” on the right side of the page) before you go, to see whether InfoPass is in effect at your local USCIS district office. If it is, you have little choice but to make an appointment (some offices will allow walk-ins if there’s space, but don’t count on this). Appointments can be made only through the Internet. You’ll need a computer with a printer, so that you’ll have the required printout of your appointment notice when you visit. (Also, be sure to bring photo identification and any paperwork associated with your immigration case to your appointment.)
Immigration application fees, like the forms, change regularly. And most USCIS and consular applications require fees to accompany them. Failure to include the proper fee will result in your application being returned to you. For up-to-date fees for U.S. filings (even USCIS forms sometimes print out-of-date fees) check the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov. Click “Forms,” and you’ll find a complete fee table, arranged by form number. Alternately, you could call the USCIS information line at 800-375-5283.
For up-to-date fees for consular filings, check the State Department’s website, www.travel.state.gov. Under “Visas for Foreign Citizens,” click “more,” then choose “Fees and Reciprocity Tables” from the drop-down menu next to the “Frequently Requested Visa Information” box. This information may also be accessed through the U.S. State Department’s Visa Services office, at 202-663-1225. The fee can be paid in dollars or in the local currency, at the current exchange rate.
There will be other expenses. If you’re trying to figure out how much to budget for this process, don’t forget the costs of required items other than the fees, such as photos, the medical exam, and having documents translated or notarized.