USCIS fees increase with up to 92% for Green Cards and Visas


Green cards, officially known as lawful permanent resident cards, allow immigrants to live and work permanently in the United States. The most common path to get a green card is through employer sponsorship or by having family members who are U.S. citizens or green card holders petition on the immigrant’s behalf.

H-1B visas allow U.S. companies to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Technology companies are major users of H-1B visas to fill skills gaps.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on January 31, 2024 that it will significantly increase fees for green card applications, H-1B visas, and related immigration forms beginning on April 1, 2024. This is the first major fee hike since 2016.

According to the final fee rule published by USCIS, the cost of applying for U.S. citizenship will increase from $640 to $760, representing an 18% increase. Green card applicants in the family-sponsored category will see fees rise from $1,760 to $2,350, a 34% hike. H-1B visa fees for large employers will jump from $460 to $780.

Breakdown of New Fees

The new fee rule announced by USCIS outlines significant increases for nearly all immigration applications and petitions, including green cards and H-1B visas. According to the final fee rule, the cost to apply for a green card (form I-485) will increase from $1,140 to $1,800, a 58% increase. Other major green card fees include:

  • I-130 petition for relative: $560, up from $535
  • I-140 employment-based petition: $555, up from $700
  • I-751 petition to remove conditions: $760, up from $595

For H-1B skilled worker visas, the new fees will be:

  • H-1B initial petition: $825, up from $555
  • H-1B extension petition: $1,170, up from $1,130

Almost across the board, applicants will see increases of around 50-80% compared to current fees. These dramatic hikes mean applicants will pay thousands more for green cards and visas. Employers sponsoring workers will also bear significant new costs.

What’s Driving the Fee Hikes

There are several key factors driving the significant fee increases for green cards and H-1B visas set to take effect in April 2024:

First, USCIS has been operating at a budget deficit for years and says it needs the extra revenue from higher fees to cover operational costs. According to USCIS, the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to a budget shortfall of over $1 billion as applications declined. The fee hikes are intended to make USCIS self-funded through user fees rather than relying on taxpayer money.

In addition, USCIS claims that higher fees reflect increased costs to adjudicate applications and petitions. The agency says it takes more time and money to process applications today compared to the last time fees were raised in 2016.

However, some argue the fee hikes are driven by policy motivations to limit legal immigration. The increases come amid broader efforts by the administration to restrict immigration and discourage people from applying for green cards and visas. Critics say USCIS has not justified the need for such large fee increases based on budget needs alone.

Impact on Immigrants

The fee increases will make applying for green cards and visas significantly more expensive for immigrants. According to USCIS, the fees for common green card applications like the I-485 will rise by over 50%. This creates major financial barriers for immigrants hoping to live and work permanently in the United States. Many advocates argue the new fees could deter applications and prevent immigrants from being able to afford the legal process.

With application costs rising into the thousands of dollars, immigrants will need to save money or go into debt to apply. Those unable to afford the fees may resort to illegal status or be forced to give up on their immigration dreams. The price hikes disproportionately impact lower-income immigrants who struggle to pay the high legal costs. Families hoping to reunite or workers being sponsored by employers will all face huge new expenses.

In addition to hurting individual immigrants, the fee increases could disrupt businesses that rely on foreign talent. If fewer workers can afford to complete the green card or H-1B process, companies may lose access to the employees they need. There are concerns that the legal immigration system will become even more selective based on an applicant’s wealth and income level. While the fee hikes aim to improve USCIS finances, they risk reducing immigration rates and harming the economy.

Impact on Employers

The fee increases will significantly impact employers who sponsor foreign workers for green cards and H-1B visas. With fees rising by over 50% for some applications, employers will face much higher costs to hire immigrant talent.

According to a report by Bloomberg Law, the new fees represent an additional administrative and financial burden for companies hiring foreign workers. The costs may deter some employers from sponsoring immigrants for visas or permanent residency.

Per an analysis by The National Law Review, employers can expect to pay thousands of dollars more in USCIS fees for each immigrant worker. This may lead to reduced hiring of foreign talent. Some employers are concerned that the talent pool will shrink if fewer foreign nationals can afford the application fees.

With the new fees making the process more expensive, employers may need to budget more for immigration costs. They will also have to spend more time navigating the increased administrative burdens of the fee hikes.

Preparing for the New Fees

With USCIS fees set to rise significantly starting April 1, 2024, immigrants and employers have some options to prepare for the higher costs:

Saving money in advance is one of the best ways to prepare. Applicants should start setting aside funds now to cover the large fee increases coming next year. Consulting with an immigration attorney can also help strategize the best timing for applications to avoid the new fees if possible.

Checking eligibility for fee waivers is another key step. As per the USCIS website, fee waivers may be available in certain cases of financial hardship Check our the frequently asked questions here.

Non-profits helping immigrants should review fee waiver policies as advised by the  Clinical Legal association.

Finally, evaluating alternative visa options may help some applicants avoid the highest green card fee hikes. H-1B visas and other temporary work visas could provide more budget-friendly options in the near term.

What’s Next for USCIS Fees

Going forward, there are concerns that USCIS fees may continue to rise in coming years. USCIS has stated that the new fees are necessary to cover increasing operating costs and avoid projected budget shortfalls. However, some experts argue that USCIS has not provided sufficient transparency into its budget needs and that future fee hikes are likely (Frequently Asked Questions on the USCIS Fee Rule).

There are also ongoing policy debates over broader immigration reforms that could impact USCIS fees. Some advocates argue that fees should be lowered to encourage legal immigration, while others believe fees should cover the full cost of processing applications. With immigration a hot topic, USCIS funding and fees will remain at the center of political battles.

Finally, there have been increased calls for transparency into how USCIS determines budget needs and sets fee amounts. Critics argue that USCIS does not provide enough data to justify fee hikes. There are requests for USCIS to detail the cost methodology behind new fees and allow public comment on any future fee changes (Adjustment to Premium Processing Fees Takes Effect Today).


The significant increases in USCIS fees for green cards and H-1B visas set to take effect in April 2024 will have major impacts on both immigrants and employers. By more than doubling the costs to apply for many common visas and green cards, the new fees create substantial financial barriers for those looking to work or live permanently in the United States.

For immigrants, these new fees may make applying for a green card or H-1B prohibitively expensive. Many may not be able to afford the thousands of dollars in new costs, which could deter talented workers from even considering immigration to the US. There are also concerns about fairness, as the fees seem intended to limit legal immigration rather than just cover operational costs.

Employers will also have to deal with a shrinking talent pool, as higher visa and green card fees disincentivize foreign workers from going through the lengthy immigration process. Companies may have more unfilled positions or underqualified candidates if top talent is priced out of the immigration system. There will also be added HR costs and paperwork to handle the higher fees.

In the long run, rapidly rising fees could become the norm for USCIS, as the agency depends more on applicant fees for its budget. But high costs will continue to restrict legal immigration and place heavy burdens on those looking to work in the US. More transparency and oversight of USCIS finances may be needed to ensure fees are justified and immigrants are not being priced out of the process.

While the coming fee hikes will clearly impact immigrants and employers, their full effects have yet to be seen. What’s certain is that the already complex immigration system will now become even more expensive to navigate.

Breakdown of New Fees

On March 1, 2023, USCIS published a final rule significantly increasing fees for green card applications, H-1B visas, and other immigration benefits effective April 1, 2024. This rule dramatically raises costs for immigrants seeking to live and work legally in the United States.

Some of the most substantial fee increases include:

  • I-485 green card application: Increasing from $1,140 to $2,195, a 92% increase
  • H-1B visa for specialty occupations: Increasing from $460 to $780, a 69% increase
  • L-1 visa for intracompany transfers: Increasing from $460 to $1,385, a 201% increase
  • H-2B visa for seasonal workers: Increasing from $460 to $965, a 110% increase

Almost all categories of green card and visa applications will see double-digit percentage fee increases. When additional fees for forms like the I-765 employment authorization and I-131 travel document are included, the total costs to immigrants could increase by thousands of dollars.

At the same time, fees for some benefits like naturalization and asylum applications will decrease slightly. However, the higher green card and visa fees will impact a far greater number of applicants.

These dramatic fee hikes make the cost of applying to legally immigrate or work in the United States significantly more expensive. Immigrants and employers will need to carefully budget and prepare for the higher fees taking effect in April 2024.

What’s Driving the Fee Hikes

The significant increases in green card and H-1B visa fees are being driven by budget deficits and escalating operating costs at USCIS. For years, USCIS has been operating at a shortfall, with expenses outpacing revenues from application fees. This has forced the agency to tap into other funding sources to stay solvent. However, USCIS aims to become entirely self-funded through fee collection. The new fees are intended to allow USCIS to recoup costs and address its budget gaps without additional government funding or loans.

In justifying the higher fees, USCIS has cited the need to invest in information technology modernization and cover pay raises for staff. Processing applications has become more expensive due to enhanced security measures, increased vetting, and new requirements like digital fingerprinting. Hiring more staff and reducing case backlogs also adds to USCIS operational costs. Some policy experts suspect an additional motivation may be to discourage immigration applications overall by hiking fees to restrictive levels.

While USCIS is expected to generate sizable revenues from the new fees, immigrant advocates argue the agency has lacked transparency on its financial needs. There are concerns the hikes are excessive and may limit access to green cards and visas for lower-income applicants. Requests have been made for USCIS to provide more data justifying why such dramatic fee increases are necessary before they take effect.