Adjustment of Status (I-485) Fees and Lawyer Costs

How much you are likely to pay for your adjustment of status depends on your age, current USCIS fees, and what services you hire a lawyer for.

By , J.D. · University of Washington School of Law

Form I-485 is the primary form that an intending immigrant must submit to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services (USCIS) in order to apply for a green card within the United States (through the process called Adjustment of Status). Although it's free to download, you can expect high expenses after that. For starters, the government fee to file an I-485 is around $1,000 (depending on applicant age and other factors). On top of that, you might want to hire an attorney to analyze your eligibility, spot any potential legal problems, and prepare the form itself.

Let's look at how much money you will likely need to set aside for the green-card application process.

Will You Be the One to Pay the U.S. Immigration Application Fees?

If you are adjusting your status based on a job offer and sponsorship by a U.S. employer, that employer will likely pick up all form-filing and attorney fees. If you do not have an employer picking up the tab, you will in most cases be expected to pay the fees yourself

In some cases, a waiver of the filing fees is available to low-income applicants. But if you are filing to adjust status based on family, you should not request a fee waiver. Doing so will alert the immigration authorities that you might be inadmissible as a likely "public charge."

If you are applying for a green card based on having been admitted as a refugee to the U.S., there is no fee for filing Form I-485. This does NOT apply to asylees (people who were granted asylum at least one year ago), however. They must either pay the fee or request a fee waiver on Form I-912.

U.S. Government Filing Fees for Form I-485

Filing fees for I-485 are based on age and certain other factors. The fees are raised fairly regularly, so always double check them on the Form I-485 page of the USCIS website. Also, some categories of applicants are exempt from paying this fee altogether, including refugees, Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJF recipients), some veterans, T and U visa recipients, some special immigrants from Afghanistan and Iraq, VAWA recipients, and more.

As of April 1, 2024, the fee for most applicants is $1,440. You will need to pay $260 extra in order to apply for a work permit (on Form I-765). And, in case you need to travel outside the U.S. before your application is approved, you might want to add on an application for Advance Parole (on Form I-131), which fee will be $630.

If you are under age 14 and filing with at least one parent, you'll need to pay a fee of $950.

Attorney Fees to Assist With Adjustment of Status

You can fill out the immigration paperwork without an attorney's help. However, many people find that the process is highly complicated, and the consequences of making a mistake are quite serious. Paying an attorney can be well worth it.

Many attorneys charge a flat fee for immigration matters such as preparing an adjustment of status application. A flat fee can be a good deal for you, especially if you have a complicated case requiring a lot of research and/or documentation. The attorney will likely do everything you need from completing the application to assembling documents, drafting affidavits, preparing you for your interview, and even attending the interview.

Surveys show an average flat fee for the entire adjustment process of around $3,000.

Paying an hourly rate is also an option. This allows you to pay for only as much of the lawyer's time as you actually need. Hourly rates for immigration attorneys usually range from $150 to $500.

Hourly billing becomes an even better deal for you if you complete the application on your own and ask the attorney to simply review it (though not all attorneys will agree to this, since they might end up spending so much time fixing errors that they would have been better off starting from scratch).

But paying at an hourly rate is also less predictable, and the hours might actually add up to more than you would have paid at a flat rate.

Contact Several Attorneys Before Choosing One

Attorneys charge different rates in different parts of the country, so it's best to contact several attorneys in your area and ask for their fees so you can compare before you hire someone.

The initial consultation with an immigration attorney is likely to be at least $100, though in rare cases it is less, or even free. It is important to trust your instincts when interviewing attorneys and go with one who is not only highly regarded, but with whom you feel comfortable.

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