Getting a Green Card

Green Card Costs

Getting a green card for an employee is a noble undertaking, but there are costs involved. In this article, we answer the question: How much does it cost to get a green card?

How much does it cost to get a green card for an employee?

Green Card Costs

It's a simple question but it can be difficult to get a straight answer.

We are going through the process of obtaining a green card for an employee, so we may as well share what we've learned.

Based on a quick ten minute call with our immigration lawyer, here's the skinny on green card costs.

First of all, be aware that there are three green card phases or steps you need to go through:

  • Labor Certification (ETA 9089 Application for Permanent Employment Certification);
  • Preference Petition (I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker); and,
  • Final Application for Permanent Residence (I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status).

OK, so here are the costs for getting a green card.

Lawyer costs for a green card will run you $4,000. You can shop around for a better price by calling several immigration lawyers. That's the price quote I received from a law firm that has a strong immigration practice.

Those green card legal fees do not include advertising, copying, FedEx, and other fees.

$1,000 for advertising is typical, and that's your biggest ancillary green card expense. You have to advertise the position. That's part of the process of getting a green card.

Last but not least, there are the green card filing fees. The government works very hard to oversee and coordinate green card evaluations and issuances, and green card filing fees is how they cover their costs.

Each phase of the green card process has its own fee structure. Fees are always subject to change. Currently, the first phase, Labor Certification, has no fee. Hooray!

The second phase, the Preference Petition, costs $475.

Finally, the last phase, the Final Application for Permanent Residence, costs $1,010.

OK, so now let's figure out the total costs for getting a green card.It's $4,000 plus $1,000 plus $475 plus $1,010.

So, all in all, it costs $6,485 to get a green card.

Now you know.

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Conversation Board

Is this green card pricing consistent with what you've seen? Let us know your own experiences regarding green card costs. Thanks!

  • KT posted on 9/1/2009
    Thanks for very detailed breakdown on estimated green card costs. My employer had hired a law firm to take applying for a green card for me -- i paid all of the legal fees. am I supposed to pay for the legal fee for the lawyer they hired?
  • Ken Gaebler posted on 9/2/2009
    Ken Gaebler
    KT, great question. I reached out to Bob White, a very experienced immigration attorney at Masuda Funai. Here's his response:

    The company is required by the DOL to pay all of the costs (including legal fees) associated with the PERM process. The employee may pay for the remaining two stages of the process, namely I-140 and AOS processes.

    Hope that answers your question! - Ken
  • Dot Pune posted on 6/24/2011
    Dot Pune
    Dear Ken, My employer is ready to pay for Green card process but they want me to sign an agreement that states that my termination at the company (either me or by the company for a "cause"), I will have to pay all the expenses recurred or they will take the money through the recollection agency or go to court. Your answer to KT's questions made me feel that they may not able to do it true? Thanks in advance!
  • Ken Gaebler posted on 6/27/2011
    Ken Gaebler

    I am not an immigration attorney. I recommend you consult with a good immigration lawyer on this issue. Based on some quick research, however, it does not seem appropriate for an employer to charge employees for green card fees. See 656.12.b below for details. This is an excerpt from legislation that dates back to May 2007.

    § 656.12 Improper commerce and payment.

    The following provision applies to applications filed under both this part and 20 CFR part 656 in effect prior to March 28, 2005, and to any certification resulting from those applications:


    (a) Applications for permanent labor certification and approved labor certifications are not articles of commerce. They shall not be offered for sale, barter or purchase by individuals or entities. Any evidence that an application for permanent labor certification or an approved labor certification has been sold, bartered, or purchased shall be grounds for investigation under this part and may be grounds for denial under § 656.24, revocation under § 656.32, debarment under § 656.31(f), or any combination thereof.


    (b) An employer must not seek or receive payment of any kind for any activity related to obtaining permanent labor certification, including payment of the employer's attorneys' fees, whether as an incentive or inducement to filing, or as a reimbursement for costs incurred in preparing or filing a permanent labor certification application, except when work to be performed by the alien in connection with the job opportunity would benefit or accrue to the person or entity making the payment, based on that person's or entity's established business relationship with the employer. An alien may pay his or her own costs in connection with a labor certification, including attorneys' fees for representation of the alien, except that where the same attorney represents both the alien and the employer, such costs shall be borne by the employer. For purposes of this paragraph (b), payment includes, but is not limited to, monetary payments; wage concessions, including deductions from wages, salary, or benefits; kickbacks, bribes, or tributes; in kind payments; and free labor.


    (c) Evidence that an employer has sought or received payment from any source in connection with an application for permanent labor certification or an approved labor certification, except for a third party to whose benefit work to be performed in connection with the job opportunity would accrue, based on that person's or entity's established business relationship with the employer, shall be grounds for investigation under this part or any appropriate Government agency's procedures, and may be grounds for denial under § 656.32, revocation under § 656.32, debarment under § 656.31(f), or any combination thereof.

    Hope this helps. Maybe others will weigh in with their opinion on this issue.

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