The total EB2 NIW cost for the green card process for one individual ranges from $2,175 to $2,950 without hiring attorneys, to approximately $10,000 when attorneys are hired (this cost varies depending on what firm is selected).
In this article we will break down the costs of the EB2 National Interest Waiver application for permanent residency, so you can know what to expect.
The breakdown of costs for EB2 NIW application
The table below summarizes the price you will pay for a full end-to-end greencard application using EB2 National Interest Waiver.
Cost - With no lawyers (DIY)
Cost - With lawyers
I-140 Government Fee
I-485 Government Fee
Others (pictures, translation of documents, mail cost...)
Consulate Fee (when applying from abroad)
Immigrant Fee (when applying from abroad)
Attorney Fee for I-140
Attorney Fee for I-485
Each piece of the cost explained
In the table above we identified the main items that you will need to pay for during the EB2 NIW application process. Let’s get into what each of them means.
I-140 and I-485 government fees
The I-140 and I-485 forms need to be accompanied by a check for USCIS. These fees are regulated and non-refundable. This means that USCIS will charge you as soon as you submit the corresponding form and they will not reimburse you even if USCIS rejects your petition.
The benefit of waiting to file the I-485 (adjustment of status) after your petition I-140 is approved is that you can spread out the cost of the overall process.
The adjustment of status (I-485) portion is the most expensive part of the EB2 NIW (currently $1,140 for one individual), so you will start with the cheaper I-140 part (currently $700) and will not pay for the more expensive portion until you get the good news of your petition being approved by USCIS.
If your application is not successful, then you “only” spent the $700 for the I-140 petition fee. You can read more about the two different ways of filing (concurrent vs separate) in this blog post.
This is also a government fee that USCIS requires. The biometric services fee is assessed during the second part of the process (I-485 or adjustment of status portion of the application). This fee covers the cost of USCIS processing your fingerprints and photos for the green card. The biometric fee is $0 if the individual is younger than 14 years old or 79 or older.
Medical Exam fees
After submitting the adjustment of status form (I-485) you may be called for an interview. If you are, typically that is the moment to schedule your medical exam. This is to fulfill the I-693 form requirement (Report of medical examination and vaccination record).
The typical cost of this medical exam is $200-400 depending on the area where you are located.
Other costs that may be needed. For instance, a small one will be passport pictures for the adjustment of status. On top of that, some petitioners may need to obtain certified translations for documents from their original countries. Finally, everyone will need the office materials to create the final binder for the petition, as well as pay for the mailing fees.
When applying from a different country you will need to visit the Embassy or Consulate and there is another fee to cover that part
Link to the official Travel.State.Gov website with the fee schedule. Navigate to the section “Filing an Immigrant Visa Petition” to consult the table with the fees. At the time of writing this article, the fee for consular processing of an approved I-140 was $345 per person. This fee is also non-refundable.
In addition, once approved, the applicant will need to pay an “immigrant Fee” for $220 to cover the cost of producing the Green Card. This cost can be paid before or after arrival to the US, although USCIS recommends paying before entering the country. Link to the official information about this fee.
We will discuss the fees charged by lawyers in a separate section below. These costs are variable depending on the firm you choose to work with (if you choose to use attorneys at all). A good rule of thumb is to budget $7,000 for this part. As you can see, this is a very high cost!
Note: In 2023 USCIS expanded Premium Processing to all EB2 NIW applicants that choose to use this expedited service. The cost is $2,500 to expedite the I-140 step (there is currently no Premium Processing for adjustment of status or consular processing).
Hiring lawyers or not: a big price difference!
A benefit from the EB2 NIW Green Card category is that you can self petition, and you do not necessarily need to have legal representation to do it: you can do it yourself! In fact, if you choose the DIY route, the costs will be way lower than if you hire immigration attorneys.
Indeed, hiring an attorney will cost you about $7,000 extra compared to the DIY option. For example, this firm charges $5,500 legal fees (excluding government fees) for NIW I-140 and $2,250 for the I-485 legal fee.
What does the cost of the attorney include?
If you decide to go with lawyers, make sure you ask the firm what services are included. While some of them do not provide the full support you need, others do a great job in drafting recommendation letters, the petition cover letter, and providing feedback to the petitioner about what to expect.
Some may even offer a full refund if the case is rejected by USCIS (see this firm, which offers a $5,000 I-140 “Approval or Refund” scheme, subject to eligibility based on the applicant’s profile).
However, no matter what company you pick, you should know that the overall cost of your Green Card application will be much higher than if you file it yourself.
Higher cost does not mean burden-free process
For instance, you will most likely be asked to write a full description of each project you have worked on in layman terms. In other words, you will need to write in language that everyone can understand regardless of their background. This effort alone will take a few hours of your time!
Conclusions on EB2 NIW costs
The cost for the EB-2 green card application with a National Interest Waiver is variable and depends on several factors. The most important one is whether you are going to hire the services of an immigration lawyer or you are going to prepare the application yourself. Additionally, you will also need to decide whether you want to use Premium Processing to expedite the decision on your I-140. Lastly, the cost is not the same when applying for permanent residency from within the U.S. (through adjustment of status) or from outside the country (through a consular process). You should take these factors into account when calculating the money you need to set aside for your EB-2 NIW.