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New USCIS filing fees means new decisions for green card applicants

Updated: May 6



With the new USCIS fee changes that took effect this month, April 2024, green card applicants are having to make decisions based on the higher costs of applying.


For example, for people applying for adjustment of status in the U.S., it used to be free to include the work permit Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) and the travel permit Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document) which allow green card applicants to work legally in the U.S. and travel in and out of the country while the green card is pending.


Now, there are significant fees to include the forms above with your green card process, therefore it’s good to review the reasoning process for including the work permit and travel permit forms in your green card application.


Do I Need to Include These Forms in My Green Card Application?

Including Form I-765 and/or Form I-131 in your adjustment of status (green card) application is optional. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does not require that applicants include either form in their completed application, so it is at your discretion to decide whether to complete and file the work and travel permit forms during the green card process. Now that the forms come with additional fees, some individuals and families may choose not to include them in their application to save on filing costs. 

It is important to note that the green card process can be a lengthy one, depending on the USCIS field office processing your application and the details of your specific case. USCIS processing times change often, but for many applicants, it could be several months or more before they have a green card.


Work & Travel Permit Pros

WORKING IN THE U.S.

If you’d like the ability to work in the U.S. while you wait for your green card, then you should complete Form I-765 and include it in your adjustment of status application.


AVOIDING TRAVEL ISSUES

If you think you may need to travel outside of the U.S. for any reason while your green card is pending, you should consult with an attorney before doing so, as it may jeopardize your case if not done properly. For such reasons, it may be beneficial to complete Form I-131 ahead of time. Obtaining the advance parole travel document provides the freedom and flexibility to leave and re-enter the U.S. in case of a family event or emergency abroad, without jeopardizing your green card application.


Work & Travel Permit Cons

COST

Form I-765 and Form I-131 have long been free to include in a family-based green card (adjustment of status) application. This means that green card applicants could file Form I-765 and Form I-131 alongside their adjustment of status form (Form I-485), for no additional costs. However, on April 1, 2024, USCIS rolled new fees showing Form I-765 with a cost of $260 when filed as part of an adjustment of status application, while Form I-131 costs $630.While these fees may be manageable for some applicants, they can pose a financial burden for others, especially considering the already substantial costs associated with the green card application process.


ADDITIONAL FORMS TO COMPLETE

If you choose to file Form I-765 and/or Form I-131, it does add additional work when preparing your green card application. Both forms must be completed thoroughly, accurately, and to USCIS standards. If there are any errors or issues found in Form I-765 or Form I-131, it could lead to complications that may delay the overall green card application.

 

To reiterate, including the work and travel permit forms in your green card application has both pros and cons. Overall, it’s up to each individual to weigh the pros and cons of the work and travel permits and decide what works best for them.


It is also recommended to hire legal assistance with the filings to avoid rejection of your filing and wasted fees.


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