How Much It Costs to Get a Green Card by Adjustment of Status

Application fees, attorney fees, and more of the things that cost money when applying for a green card in the United States.

By , J.D. University of Washington School of Law
Updated 2/10/2024

If you are in the U.S. and thinking of applying for a green card (lawful permanent residence) through the process known as adjustment of status, you've probably heard that it can be an expensive process. Indeed, you are likely to face such costs as application fees, attorney fees, a medical exam fee, and more. These are described below.

The first thing to check, however, is whether you are truly eligible to go this procedural route. Being physically within the U.S. and technically eligible for permanent residence is not necessarily enough, as described in Who Can Apply for a Green Card Through Adjustment of Status. The rest of this article assumes that you are adjustment-eligible.

Government Application Fees for Adjustment of Status

The immigrant is not usually the one to pay the first government fee. Before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will let someone apply for a green card, a sponsor, most likely a close U.S. relative or employer (or in rare circumstances the actual immigrant), will likely have to file a petition to classify the immigrant as potentially eligible. There is usually a filing fee for this initial petition, and if the sponsor ("petitioner") isn't paying it, the immigrant must.

The exact dollar amount USCIS will charge for the initial classification petition depends on which petition you'll be using. To find out the exact fee, go to the Forms page of the USCIS website. Look for either Form I-130, Form I-140, or Form I-360, depending on which must be filed in your case. (No fee waiver is available.)

The next thing to check is what filing fee amount the immigrant must pay for an adjustment of status application. The exact figure depends on the applicant's age and whether it is a child filing with parents, but most applicants can expect to pay several hundreds of dollars per person. There is no fee for anyone who entered the U.S. as a refugee or who has VAWA, T status, or U status. For the latest adjustment of status application fees, go to the USCIS Web page about Form I-485. (USCIS fee changes went into effect April 1, 2024.)

Although some types of applicants for immigration benefits can apply for a fee waiver if they can't afford to pay the adjustment of status fees, this is unlikely to apply to most applicants, because it makes them potentially inadmissible as a likely public charge.

Although under the pre-April 1, 2024 fee structure, applicants didn't need to tack on separate fees for several important accompanying applications (the fee for Form I-485 covered them all, including an application for a work permit/employment authorization document/EAD on Form I-765 and an application for Advance Parole, or the right to leave the U.S. while your application is in processing without it being canceled on Form I-131), that is no longer true. Starting April 1, 2024, adjustment applicants will need to pay half the regular Form I-765 fee when they file it together with a Form I-485; in other words, $260.

If you send in the wrong fee, your application will be rejected. Another good way to check on fees is the USCIS Fee Schedule.

Attorney's Fees to Assist With Adjustment of Status Application

It's a good idea to hire an attorney to help with the analysis of your green card eligibility as well as the paperwork. If your case presents any complications, you would also be wise to hire the attorney to accompany you to the interview at USCIS. (Many, but not all cases require an in-person interview; and it's pretty much guaranteed in marriage-based applications.)

Expect to pay the attorney somewhere between $3,000 and $7,000 in total—in addition to the application fees described above. Most attorneys will quote you a flat fee in advance, and ask you to pay part of it at the beginning and the rest at the end. Exactly where it falls on this range depends on factors like:

  • how many people are applying together (more people obviously raises the price, though each additional person over the primary applicant might receive a discount)
  • whether your case presents any particular complications, such as a past criminal conviction, which the attorney must analyze or help you prepare to deal with
  • whether you need to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility (which can add a significant amount of time to what the attorney will spend on the application, and might be charged at an hourly rate—likely upwards of $150 per hour)
  • whether the attorney charges separately for expenses such as phone calls, photocopying, mailing, and so on (as is common)
  • whether you'd like the attorney to accompany you to the USCIS interview
  • whether USCIS sends you a request for more evidence because it cannot determine whether you're eligible for adjustment based on what you already provided, and
  • whether you need to appeal an initial determination by USCIS that you will not be given a green card.

Realize, however, that if anything unexpected comes up—for instance, an applicant is arrested before the case is done, or a spouse in a marriage-based case reveals a pending divorce proceeding that the attorney hadn't factored into the case before—the costs will go up, in order to deal with this change.

Adjustment of Status Medical Exam Fee

You'll need to get a medical exam done, to show that no health-based grounds of inadmissibility will block you from green-card approval. The fee for the medical exam report varies by doctor, but you'll have only a limited number of approved physicians to choose from. Expect to pay between around $75 and $350 for the basic exam and filling out Form I-693, plus extra for any needed vaccinations.

To avoid having to pay this twice (because, if your interview doesn't take place within the one-year validity period of the exam results, they will expire), wait until your interview is scheduled to get the exam, and bring the results to the interview.

Postage to Mail Adjustment of Status Application to USCIS

By the time you're done collecting all the forms and supporting documents for adjustment of status, you'll have a thick stack of paper. What's more, your safest bet is to send it by certified mail or a courier service, to avoid loss (or to prove to USCIS that it really got there). You'll likely pay at least $10 for mailing.

(Also see How to Prepare and Send Adjustment of Status Application to USCIS.)

Immigration Photos

The immigrant, and in some cases the U.S. petitioner, will need to submit photos with one or more of the applications—as many as five or six photos in total. These will cost around $15 per set.

Costs of Travel and Parking Near USCIS Offices

You will need to attend both a biometrics appointment and an interview at a USCIS office. The transportation and parking costs will depend on how far away you live and whether you might need to spend the night.

Keep in mind that most USCIS offices are in big cities, where parking is expensive. What's more, the safest bet is to park in an actual lot rather than at a parking meter, so that inevitable USCIS delays don't result in you getting an expensive parking ticket!

The only good news about all the delays inherent in the immigration application process is that the immigrant should receive a work permit, and perhaps might find a job to help defray some of these many costs.

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