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How Much Does it Cost to Get a Green Card?

If you’re a foreign national or immigrant looking to obtain a green card, you’re probably curious about the costs involved.

The fees for getting a green card include those paid to the USCIS along with related expenses, like your required medical exam and biometrics appointment.

We’ll discuss the costs of getting a green card and answer your questions about the entire process.

The Price Tag of a Green Card in 2022

If you apply for a green card in 2022, how much can you expect to pay?

Well, the answer depends — for example, if you’re applying for a family-based green card from within the US, the government filing fees amount to $1,760; if you currently live outside of the US, the filing fees are $1,200 (these fees do not include medical examination costs, which vary by provider).

Application Costs for a Green Card

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Next, let’s break down the government fees that you’ll have to pay to the USCIS when applying for your green card in 2022:

  • Form I-130 (Family Sponsorship): $535 — whether you live in the US or not
  • Form I-485 (Green Card Application): $1,140 if living in the US, N/A if living outside the US
  • Form I-864 (Financial Support): N/A if living in the US, $120 if living outside the US
  • State Department Processing: N/A if living in the US, $325 if living outside the US
  • USCIS Immigrant Fee: N/A if living in the US, $220 if living outside the US
  • Medical Examination Fee: Varies by provider

Medical examination costs for your green card application typically cost around $200 but can range anywhere from $100 to $500, depending on your location, required vaccinations, and the provider that performs the examination.

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Can I Stay on a Green Card Permanently?

Yes — as long as you follow some rules.

Once you obtain your green card, you can stay in the US permanently; however, you do have to meet a few conditions.

You must not violate criminal or immigration laws, and you must not abandon the U.S. as your place of permanent residence.

So, as long as you don’t commit certain criminal acts or leave the country with the intention of living permanently somewhere else, you can stay in the US as a green card holder without applying for citizenship.

How Difficult Is it to Get a Green Card?

The difficulty of obtaining a green card depends significantly on your situation.

We’ll discuss the most common methods of getting a green card and how easy or difficult each one is below.

What Is the Fastest Way to Obtain a Green Card?

When talking about the fastest or easiest way to obtain a green card in the U.S., most people are interested in knowing two things:

  1. The fastest way to get a green card
  2. The path to a green card with the least demanding requirements.

While there’s not one answer that will work for everyone, we’ll explore three common (and relatively fast) ways to get a green card.

Typically, the fastest way to qualify for a green card is by being either:

  • The spouse of a US citizen
  • An unmarried child (younger than 21) of a US citizen
  • A parent of a US citizen who is over 21.

Family-based immigration is typically the fastest route to getting a green card.

Next, employment-based green cards (EB-1 through EB-5 visas) also have relatively short wait times in more categories; however, the application process requires much more effort and documentation from you and your employer.

Another relatively quick way to get a green card is through the “lottery” — the Diversity Immigrant Visa program. There are 55,000 green cards available each year through this lottery; however, you must meet certain requirements, and, ultimately, whether or not you get picked that year is down to luck.

What Is Required to Get a Green Card?

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Before you think about applying for a green card, ensure that you’re eligible under a qualifying category. These categories are:

  • Immediate relatives of US citizens, including:
  • Spouses, widows, and widowers 
  • Unmarried children under 21 
  • Parents with children 21 or older
  • Stepchildren/stepparents — if the marriage creating the relationship happened before the child turned 18
  • Adopted children if the child was adopted before turning 16
  • Unmarried adults (over age 21) with a US citizen parent
  • Spouses and unmarried children (under age 21) of a permanent resident
  • Unmarried adult (over age 21) child of permanent resident 
  • Married people with at least one parent that’s a US citizen
  • Brothers and sisters of adult (over 21) US citizens
  • Preferred employees and workers, including:
  • Priority workers, like those with extraordinary abilities, outstanding researchers and professors, executives of multinational companies, etc.
  • Professionals with exceptional abilities or advanced degrees
  • Skilled or unskilled workers
  • Religious workers and “special immigrants”
  • Investors that meet certain requirements

How Long Does it Take to Get a Green Card?

The length of time it takes to receive your green card after applying varies based on your eligibility and whether you are applying from within the United States or abroad.

Marriage and family-based green cards are generally the fastest routes to becoming a permanent resident and can take anywhere from several months to over a year.

Other categories of immigrants, including adult children and siblings, can take much longer to receive their green cards.

In addition, besides spouses, minor children, and parents of US citizens, there are limitations on how many green cards are handed out each year to individuals in the other categories.

Are There Age Restrictions for Green Cards?

No — there are no age restrictions to get a green card. However, you must meet the eligibility requirements (like the examples listed above).

US immigration laws offer a variety of ways for immigrants to obtain a green card, and their eligibility requirements depend on the category under which they apply.

For example, if you’re the parent of a minor child and obtain your green card, your child can get a green card through the sponsorship of a family member (you).

Do I Need a Lawyer to Get a Green Card?

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You don’t have to work with a lawyer to apply for a green card. However, working with an attorney who specializes in immigration can help you apply successfully and eliminate long wait times that come from making mistakes on your application that need to be fixed. Using an immigration attorney also makes it less likely that your case will be denied for avoidable reasons, and therefore, that you will have spent money on filing fees that you will not get back. 

An immigration lawyer can also help you determine your eligibility and navigate through the complex processes and complicated laws to help ensure your application goes smoothly, giving you the best chances of getting your green card.

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