Moving to the USA as an expat has just gone up in price.
From February 2013, expats looking at picking up a green card to work in the US will have two fees to pay.
The first is the Department of State (DOS) visa application fee and the second is a new one of £102 called the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Immigrant Fee.
The money will help USCIS recover the cost of processing the permanent resident card to expats moving to the US.
The fee is payable through the USCIS web site and potential expats will be given specific information about the costs during an interview at their local US Consulate.
Anyone failing to pay the correct fee will not receive a green card.
Green card status
USCIS processes around 36,000 expat visa applications every month and the payment is in addition to any charged by the DOS.
A spokesman for USCIS said: “Any expat applying to stay in the US will no longer get a green card until the USCIS application fee is cleared, but failing to pay won’t change the legal status of the expat.”
Expats without a green card can complete the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Form I-94.
The I-94 is valid for 12 months and is proof an expat is a lawful permanent resident - but when the I-94 expires, the expat must have a green card session of a green card prove permanent residence status.
The spokesman added: “Even though I-94 stamp is valid for one year we strongly advise new permanent residents to pay the immigrant fee as soon as possible in order to avoid delays in receiving their permanent resident card.”
Those affected can pay with a debit or credit card though anyone using a cheque will have to do so with one drawn on a US bank account.
The new fee doesn’t extend to those who are entering the United States under inter-country adoptions programs. This also includes children admitted into the US under the Orphan or Hague Adoptions Process.
There are concerns that the payment process has not been made clear to potential expats, especially those who have already applied for a permanent residency visa who may not understand the potential issues of failing to pay.
A proposal for the new fee was accepted in September 2010, but, says USCIS, it has taken until now to implement it, in conjunction with DOS, and the fee will be collected from 1 February 2013.