How to pay the EB2 NIW fees to USCIS?

count, banknotes, business-3125587.jpgMany green card applicants asked me how to pay the EB2 NIW fees to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). 

The answer can be found in the official source: the USCIS website. In this article I will provide a summary of what you can find there, and also the relevant links to the source.

Recap: How much is the EB2 NIW process going to cost you?

In this article, we are referring specifically to the government fees. And more specifically, to the I-140 and I-485 fees.

There is a specific blog post about EB2 NIW costs, so I will not repeat everything here. As of 2024 the I-140 fee is $715 plus a $300 Asylum Program Fee (check the updated information here) and the I-485 fee is $1,400 (check the updated info here). Overall, the whole EB-2 NIW process can cost between $2,800 to upwards of $13,000, if lawyers are hired.

1 – Paying USCIS from the United States

First of all, you should never send cash to USCIS.

This is the easy part. If you are already in the US, your case is relatively easy. USCIS accepts different forms of payment:

  • Personal Checks
  • Money Orders. You can get a money order from the US Postal Service (USPS) for a small fee.
  • Credit card payments (only for certain cases – see below) 

Payment from US to USCIS using personal checks and money orders

The USCIS accepts these forms of payment as long as they are issued by a US financial institution and must be payable in US dollars (USD). The check or money order should be made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”, without using other acronyms. Once they receive it, they will convert the check into an electronic funds transfer (EFT) and money will be withdrawn from your account in about 24 hours after they process it. The image below shows an example of check that simulates a check to pay the I-140 form.

Check for I-140 fee
Example of check made payable to US Department of Homeland Security

Payment from US to USCIS using credit cards

Yes, USCIS now accepts credit or debit card payments for EB-2 NIW related processes. In theory the card must be issued by a US financial institution although we have anecdotal evidence that some foreign cards are also accepted. In my online course I tell you specifically which ones so you can use them with more confidence.

Form G-1450 must be used to request this method of payment, and be mailed together with the form to be paid for to the lockbox or service center where that form is going.

2 – Paying USCIS from outside the United States

This is a tricky situation because guidelines are less clear. First let’s see what you should NOT do:

  1. You should not send cash. Again, you should never send cash to USCIS
  2.  Western Union or Paypal transfers are not accepted by USCIS. They clarified this on a tweet a few years ago after scams proliferated
Tweet USCIS western union paypal
Screenshot of tweet from USCIS (2018)

So…how should you pay USCIS from abroad? There are two routes you can use.

Payment from abroad: use relative or friend route for I-140 fee

If you have a family member or friend who is already living in the United States, ask them to help you for the I-140 fee payment. This may be strange but it is probably the easiest method. You need to ask them to either buy a money order in USPS or make a check that you can use (if they have a US bank account). In summary, go to the methods described above for paying from the US and you can benefit from them.

Payment from abroad: contact your US Embassy or Consulate

The official instructions for payment on the I-140 website say that “If you live outside the United States, contact the nearest US Embassy or US Consulate for instructions on the method of payment”. 

I could find examples of how a consulate deals with this issue. For instance, the US Consulate in Warsaw, Poland directs applicants to pay in cash or credit card in the consulate itself.

Payment from abroad: use a debit or credit card

USCIS now accepts payment with cards for most processes. Even though they say they only accept American cards, we know some foreign cards have worked fine. In my online course for EB2 NIW petition crafting I show you which ones are likely to get accepted. Check out the course here!

Payment from abroad: what if you cannot find a solution? A creative solution

Important Disclaimer: YouTube viewer tested this method. He initially received a notice from USCIS saying that the case was received but a few weeks later he received a rejection notice stating that the financial institution had rejected his payment. He contacted Wise and they said USCIS never tried to collect the payment, so it is unclear if this method works or not. Use at your own risk and as last resort, and please let me know how it works for you so we can update this information.
In the event that the US Embassy of Consulate does not provide you with any solution and you do not have friends or family already in the US, you can try this idea. 
 

Step #1 : Open a Wise account

Wise (previously know as TransferWise) is a money transfer entity that I have personally used to transfer money between US and Europe and I recommended it. You can find plenty of information about its reliability online. Keep in mind that this suggestion is not sponsored by them and I do not get any economic benefit from it. 

Wise gives you a multi-currency account, and this is why it can be useful for this “trick”. When you open the account you can transfer your local currency to US dollars. Moreover, you will get a US routing and account number. This is extremely important because the 2 USCIS requirements for checks are that they are from a US bank and they can be drawn in US dollars.
 

Step #2: Obtain your US routing and account numbers

 In your Wise account, look for the US bank information. The routing number is 9 digits, and the account number is 16 digits long.
 

Step#3: Use an online tool to make and print checks

There are websites (or apps for the phone) out there that allow you to make checks with your bank information. Use the Wise bank numbers that you collected earlier to make a check. Make sure the check contains your name and address as USCIS is known for wanting them printed out (even though it is not legally mandatory). Print it – a regular printer will do! buy security paper to print it on it.

Step #4: Use this check to pay your USCIS form

Enclose this check in your petition as you would a traditional check. Theoretically, this trick should work. Especially, considering that USCIS will not actually deposit this check. They will instead initiate an EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) using the bank account numbers printed in the check. In your case, these are the ones from your Wise account.

9 thoughts on “How to pay the EB2 NIW fees to USCIS?”

  1. Hi Oscar,
    Do you have to provide an original of personal check when submitting documents to USCIS or can you provide scan of the check? I am going to ask my friends in the US to provide me a check, as I am outside of the US.
    Your site is super useful.
    Thank you,
    Cholpon

  2. Hello Oscar,

    Your channel is awesome and very helpful.
    Could you please finally suggest if the Wise account payment is successful?

    Thank you,
    Ali

  3. Thank you for this information.
    If a family member who stays in the U.S. is helping me to buy money order, will they use their U.S. address or my foreign address on the money order? Since my name will be on the money order.

    1. I think I already answered your questions somewhere else. The money order from USPS does not come with a printed name or address on it, so they can mail the blank form for you to fill out.

  4. reza soleimanpour

    Hi
    My overseas bank has a branch in NY they. My branch said they can give me bank draft with USD currency does USCIS accept this form of payment ?

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