How to budget for a Green Card in 2024

Obtaining a Green Card in the United States is a major step towards establishing your residency in the US, and we know that it includes expenses that can change according to your personal situation. From application fees to additional costs for legal services, it is vital to have a well-funded budget to go through this process successfully.

Fortunately, you are not alone in your journey towards permanent residency - here at Alvva, we want to make sure you have all the information you need and the peace of mind you deserve. If you need support in preparing your documents for the Green Card, start your process today.

USCIS Fees for Green Card Applications

The first step is to familiarize yourself with the fees established by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

Starting April 1, 2024, USCIS will implement a new fee structure, which means a considerable increase in several important forms for your Green Card application. This adjustment is the first of its kind since 2016 and has a significant financial impact, especially for family-based immigration applications.

Form I-130 (Petition for Foreign Relative): + 26%, orig. $505, now $625 - $675

If you are looking for family reunification, including obtaining a residency card through marriage, this form is essential. Its fee will increase by 26%, costing $675 if filed on paper and $625 for online submissions. This change reflects the importance of considering which format to submit, in order to save on costs.

Form I-129F (Petition for Foreign Fiancé): + 26%, orig. $535, now $675

Crucial for those wanting to bring their fiancé(e) to the U.S., the cost of this form will rise by 26%, to $675. Preparing for this increase is critical for couples looking to get married in the United States.

Form I-485 (Application for Registration of Permanent Residence or Adjustment of Status): + 18%, orig. $1,225, now $1,400

Those seeking to obtain a Green Card or permanent residence will see an 18% increase in the fee, going from $1,225 to $1,440.

In addition, fees will be introduced for two applications that were previously free within the process: $260 for employment authorization and $630 for travel authorization.

Beyond USCIS fees, consider expenses like medical exams, document translation, and services of an immigration lawyer, if you decide to hire one. These costs vary according to the complexity of your case and the location of the professionals you choose.

Strategies to Save on your Green Card Application

Given the USCIS fees increases scheduled for April 2024, it is more important than ever to plan thoroughly and seek ways to mitigate costs. A key strategy is to submit applications before the date of the increase to take advantage of current rates.

Also, consider the possibility of creating a savings fund specifically dedicated to covering costs related to immigration. This encompasses not only USCIS fees but also possible legal expenses, certified translations of documents, and other administrative costs. Having a separate fund will allow you to avoid the financial stress that often accompanies these procedures.

Keep in mind that, depending on your particular situation, it could be beneficial for you to explore the fee waivers that USCIS offers for certain forms and for applicants who meet specific criteria related to income or other circumstances. These exemptions can represent substantial savings in your immigration process.

When planning your Green Card application, it is essential not only to focus on immediate costs but also on how this investment integrates into your overall financial planning, including other significant everyday expenses. Rent, trips, holidays, school, and other financial responsibilities don't stop while you pursue your dream. A good idea is to create a detailed budget that includes all your monthly expenses, as well as an emergency fund for contingencies. This will help you manage your finances better during the application process, and it will prepare you to handle unforeseen events successfully without compromising your goal of obtaining permanent residence.

Loan Options for your Green Card Application

If you need extra help to gather the funds needed for your Green Card application, you can also look into financing options specifically designed for this purpose. Organizations like Mission Asset Fund, One Percent for America and Capital Good Fund offer loan programs geared at helping immigrants cover the costs associated with the process, including USCIS fees. These loans can be a valuable tool for people who need immediate financial assistance, but wish to avoid getting into even more debt from high interest rates.

Think of your Green Card not only as an expense, but as an investment in your future. Being a permanent resident in the United States opens up a world of opportunities: from better job offers to the freedom to explore new corners of the country, and also the ability to visit your family. These opportunities will not only improve your quality of life but will also increase your income, giving you more leeway to plan and enjoy a new family life in the United States.

Let’s Go Get Your Green Card!

We know that the process to obtain a Green Card is complex, but with adequate planning, it is possible to manage the application effectively. Stay informed about the latest USCIS updates and consider all costs involved to ensure a smooth process. The investment in your future in the United States deserves careful and detailed preparation.

Alvva offers you the experience and support necessary to navigate the Green Card application process efficiently, ensuring that you are well-positioned to reach your immigration goals in the United States. Start your process today!