Navigating the Costs: A Complete Guide to Petitioning Relatives with Form I-130 [2023]

Wondering how much it takes to apply to a relative? Find the application costs in our full 2021 guideline for the overall fee for applying to a relative (in the U.S. and overseas).

The lowest fee for petitioning a relative is $1,600-$1,900 per immigrant.

Introduction to Form I-130 and the process of petitioning relatives for immigration

Form I-130, also known as the Petition for Alien Relative, is a form used by U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to sponsor certain family members for immigration to the United States. The I-130 petition is the first step in the process of petitioning relatives for immigration.

The process of petitioning a relative for immigration can be complex and time-consuming, involving several steps and the submission of various forms and documents. The process may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the individual case and the type of visa being sought.

For example, U.S. citizens can sponsor immediate relatives, such as a spouse, parent, or unmarried child under the age of 21, for a green card, while lawful permanent residents can sponsor certain family members for a green card, such as a spouse, unmarried child under 21 or married child over 21.

Once the I-130 petition is approved, the relative will be notified and will then need to complete additional steps in the immigration process, such as submitting an application for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status and attending a medical examination and interview.

It’s important to note that the process of petitioning a relative for immigration can take several years, and the relative may not be able to enter the United States until the process is complete. Additionally, it is highly recommended to consult a licensed immigration lawyer to help you navigate the process, as immigration laws and regulations are subject to change, and the process can be very complex.

Filing Form I-130 is the initial step in initiating the family-based immigration process to the U.S.

The fees involved in having the I-130 petition filed will be based on how many relatives you wish to sponsor and where they are located (in the U.S. or overseas). 

Extra charges may be required in the event that foreign-born relatives are currently in the U.S. and are qualified to seek an adjustment of status simultaneously.

The application charge for Form I-130 is $535. The application charge for this application cannot be waived.

Attention: the application charge is not refundable, no matter what action USCIS takes on the petition. 

You have to present the accurate amount of all charges. 

USCIS receives money orders, cashier’s checks, and personal checks made payable to “The U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”

At the time of application at the USCIS lockbox facility, you may use Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions, to take payment by credit card.

For more detail about payment methods, please refer to the official USCIS web page for every form under the “Filing Fees” section.

Be sure to review the USCIS Web page for Form I-130 to verify the charge prior to filing. 

You may also learn the prevailing application charge by contacting the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.

In the event that you are sponsoring at least one family member, you must present a separate I-130 petition and application charge for each family member.

Categories of Relatives for Family-Based Immigration

All family-based immigrants belong to one of two main classes:

The below immigrants are recognized as “immediate relatives”:

  • spouses of U.S. Citizenships;
  • unwed child under 21 years of age of a U.S. citizen; or
  • parent of a U.S. citizen.

All other eligible relationships are recognized in the family priority classification.

Your relative’s ranking for getting a green card will rely on the date you submit your application. 

Therefore, it is often advantageous to submit your application as quickly as you can.

There is for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens as there is an absence of a waiting time.

According to the law, every person immigrating under a relative petition has to have a financial sponsor. 

In the event that you do not satisfy the lowest income requirement, then the other person will have to be a joint sponsor. Please review our guidelines for the Affidavit of Support.

How Much Does it Take to Petition a Relative Residing in the U.S.?

In the event that your sponsored relative presently resides in the U.S. and is legally admitted, he or she is able to submit Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to seek a green card without exiting the U.S. 

This process is referred to as “adjustment of status.”

In the following, you are able to see the charges for filing an application for a relative residing in the U.S.:

USCIS FormCharge
Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative$535
*Form I-485, Adjustment of Status$1,140
Biometrics (Fingerprints and Photo)$85
Form I-693, Immigration Medical Examination$0
Medical Examinations$300-$500; Average: $400
Total$1,960 (Estimate)

 Note: the breakdown and various parts of the charges stated in the table above are just the mandatory charges requested by USCIS. 

It’s worth noting that this fee is subject to change over time, so it’s important to check the official website of the USCIS or consult with a licensed immigration lawyer to confirm the current fee amount before filing the form.

Additional fees may also apply in certain situations, such as when filing for a K-3 nonimmigrant visa for the spouse of a U.S. citizen or a V nonimmigrant visa for the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen.

You will be able to have extra charges such as attorney’s fees, translation fees, postage, copying charges, etc.

*When submitting Form I-485, Adjustment of Status, USCIS does not charge similar application charges for all age classes of immediate relatives. 

The application cost structure determined by USCIS for various age classes is described below. 


AgeForm ChargeBiometrics ChargeTotal
Under 14 and filing with the I-485 application of a minimum of one parent$750$0$750
Under 14 and not filing with the I-485 application of a minimum of one parent$1,140$1,140$1,140
Age 14-78$1,140$85$1,225
Age 79 or older$1,140$0$1,140
Filing Form I-485 on the basis of having entered the U.S. as a refugee$0$0$0

 How Much Does it Take to Petition a Relative Residing Oversea?

There are two types various ways to get a family-based green card:

Consular processing is a unique approach that applies to applicants who are not located in the U.S.

This implies that the person planning to immigrate to the U.S. will be interviewed at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in his or her native country to finish the family-based green card application.

  1. File Form I-130: The U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form is used to establish the relationship between the petitioner and the relative. Along with the form, the petitioner must also submit any required documentation, such as birth certificates or marriage certificates, to prove the relationship.
  2. Wait for Approval: After the I-130 petition is filed, the USCIS will review the form and any supporting documentation. If the petition is approved, the relative will be notified and will be able to proceed with the next steps in the immigration process. If the petition is denied, the petitioner may appeal the decision or submit a new petition.
  3. National Visa Center (NVC) Process: After the I-130 petition is approved, it will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing. The NVC will send the relative instructions on how to complete the next steps, including submitting an application for an immigrant visa and paying the necessary fees.
  4. Consular Processing: After the NVC processes the application, the relative will be scheduled for an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. During the interview, the relative will need to provide additional documentation, such as medical examination and police clearance, as well as answer questions about their background and intentions in the United States.
  5. Obtain the Immigrant Visa: If the relative is approved for an immigrant visa, they will be notified and will need to pay a visa issuance fee and provide their passport for the visa to be issued. Once the visa is issued, the relative must enter the United States before the visa expires.
  6. Enter the United States and Receive the Green Card: Upon issuance of the Immigrant Visa and the relative’s entry to the United States, the relative will be granted permanent resident status. The USCIS will mail the green card to the relative’s U.S. address within 90 days of their entry. It’s important to note that before entering the United States, the relative must pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee; failure to pay the fee may cause a delay in receiving the green card.

U.S. applicants are also required to present Form I-864, or Affidavit of Support, to confirm that USCIS is prepared to financially support their relative(s) in the U.S. 

The following table summarizes the consular processing charges for family-based green card applications:


Immigration formFiling Charge
Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative$535
Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa Application$325
Form I-864, Affidavit of Support$120
Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record$0
USCIS Immigrant Charge$220
*Medical Examination Charge$400 (average charge)

  *While there is no charge for submitting Form I-693, the charge for the medical examination will differ by doctor and country. 

The medical examination charge ranges from $300 to $500 but is generally $400.

There are other charges related to consular processing. 

You need to ensure that you have the basic idea in mind; you are able to use this fee calculator offered by USCIS to aid you in identifying all charges.

Other Costs to Remember

In addition to government charges and medical examination charges, you can anticipate other extra charges:

  • Vaccination Fees: in the event that your medical examination asks you to get vaccinated, please update it prior to submitting your complete medical examination report. 
  • Documents Translation Fee: in the event that you attach any documents to your application that are not in English, you must include translated copies of these document(s) that are acceptable to the translator. For example, translated documents for a one-page birth certificate are available for between $20-$40. 
  • Document Fee: government agencies often charge a fee for publishing specific official documents.
  • Travel Expenses: travelling for various goals, such as a green card interview, a medical examination, or biometrics, USCIS will not compensate you for your travel expenses.
  • Shipping Costs: in the event that you reside overseas or even in the U.S., you are going to be obliged to submit the package of documents and supporting documentation to various locations, paying nominal shipping and postal charges.

Tips for managing the costs associated with petitioning relatives and strategies for saving money

Petitioning a relative for immigration can be a costly process, and it’s important to be prepared for the expenses that may be incurred along the way. Here are some tips for managing the costs associated with petitioning relatives and strategies for saving money:

  1.  Research the fees and costs associated with the immigration process: Before beginning the process of petitioning a relative, research the fees and costs associated with the process, including the cost of filing Form I-130 and any additional fees that may be required, such as the cost of a medical examination or a legal consultation.
  2. Gather all required documents in advance: Having all of the required documents on hand before filing the I-130 petition can save time and money. It’s important to research the specific documents required for your case and have them ready before filing the petition.
  3. Seek professional help: Consult a licensed immigration lawyer to help you navigate the immigration process and to ensure that your petition is completed the first time correctly. An experienced immigration lawyer can help you avoid common mistakes that can delay the process and increase the cost.
  4. Take advantage of online resources: Utilize online resources such as the official website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the National Visa Center (NVC) to stay informed about the immigration process and to access helpful information and resources.
  5. Be prepared for unexpected expenses: The immigration process can be unpredictable, and unexpected expenses may arise. Be prepared for this by setting aside money for unexpected expenses and by being aware of the various costs that may be incurred throughout the process.
  6. Consider crowdfunding: Some people have found success in raising funds through crowdfunding platforms, such as GoFundMe, to help pay for the expenses of the immigration process.


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