US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) publishes a number of forms for individuals looking to immigrate or travel to the US for work, leisure, or to establish permanent residency or citizenship. These forms are available on the USCIS website, and while they are free to download, you must generally pay the amount listed on the current fee schedule to submit them to the agency unless you qualify for a fee waiver. Fees are subject to change. As described here, some of the forms associated with visas, passports, and travel are available from agencies other than USCIS, including the US Department of State and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Additionally, if you are filing your forms from outside the US, some are only available from the US Department of State through its online portal.
Form filing tips from USCIS include ensuring that you are using the most current versions of the forms you are filing, that your name, birthdate, and A-number (if applicable) appear exactly the same way on each form, that your forms are filled out completely and signed, and that you pay all necessary fees. The agency also states that they prefer applicants to download forms from the USCIS website, complete them electronically, and print them out to submit them.
Some of the most commonly used immigration forms, along with fees and other details, are listed below. You can read more here about the laws and requirements associated with many of these forms and applications.
Green Card Forms
You can apply for a green card or lawful permanent residence from within the US using a Form I-485 using a process called adjustment of status. The filing fee is $1,140 plus an $85 biometrics fee for applicants who are 14 to 78 years old. Children who are under age 14 and filing with at least one parent’s Form I-485 can pay a reduced fee of $750, but must pay the full $1,140 if they are filing without a parent’s Form I-485. No biometrics fee is needed for children under 14, and there are no fees at all for an applicant filing as a refugee within the meaning of Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) section 209(a). If you are applying for a green card from outside the US, you will need to file a Form DS-260 online through the US Department of State.
To apply for a K-1 visa, which would allow your fiancé and any children (if applicable) to come the US so that you can get married, or to apply for a K-3 visa for your spouse and any children (if applicable) so that they can seek a green card, you would file Form I-129F. The filing fee is $535 unless the basis for seeking K-3 status is based on a Form I-130 that you are also filing for your spouse, in which case there is no additional fee. If you are a US citizen or permanent resident, you can file a Form I-130 to sponsor a relative pursuing a green card, and the fee is $535.
A Form I-90 is used to renew or replace a green card and costs $455, along with a biometrics fee of $85; note that fees do not apply in some cases, such as if you never received your card or the agency made an error on your card and it needs to be replaced.
Additional commonly used forms related to green cards include a Form I-131 for requesting authorization to temporarily leave the US if your green card application is still pending; a Form I-765, which you can use to obtain authorization to work in the US while your application for a green card is pending; and Forms I-944 (applicant within the US) and DS-5540 (applicant outside the US), relating to a green card applicant’s ability to financially support themselves in the US.
Naturalization / Citizenship Forms
If you have a green card and are seeking US citizenship, you may file Form N-400 at a cost of $640, along with a biometrics fee of $85 (with some exceptions related to income, age, and military service). If your naturalization application is denied, you can file a Form N-336 to request a USCIS hearing for reconsideration of that denial; the filing fee for most applicants is $700.
After you complete the naturalization process, you can file a Form N-600 to obtain a certificate reflecting your status as a US citizen, which carries a fee of $1,170 (with some exceptions related to military service). You can file a Form 600-K, which also has a fee of $1,170, to claim citizenship on behalf of a child living outside of the US if you are a US citizen parent, grandparent, or legal guardian of the child.
Work Visa Forms
A foreign national who wants to come to the US for a job can pursue a non-immigrant work visa that will give them temporary status. The appropriate type of visa will vary depending on the profession, job duties, and achievements of the foreign national. Some common examples include the H-1B visa for a foreign national in a specialty occupation, the L-1 visa for an intracompany transferee, and the O visa for a foreign national who has demonstrated extraordinary ability or achievement in their field.
To apply for a work visa, you will need to file Form I-129, a petition for a non-immigrant worker. This form will be divided into several separate forms in October 2020, based on the specific type of visa for which the foreign national is applying. The fee to file an I-129 petition is generally $460, although additional fees may apply in some cases. If this petition is approved, you can complete Form DS-160, which is an online non-immigrant visa application. There is no fee associated with submitting this application. The process also involves an interview at an embassy or consulate in your home country, as well as compiling certain required documents.
Investor Visa Forms
If you are a foreign entrepreneur, you may qualify for an investor visa to come to the US. The most common type of investor visa is an EB-5 visa, which is available to foreign nationals who want to come to the US to start a business that will benefit the US economy by creating jobs and investing capital. As of 2021, you generally must invest at least $500,000 in a commercial enterprise in a targeted employment area (a rural area or an area with high unemployment), or $1 million in a commercial enterprise in any other area.
If you want to pursue an EB-5 visa, you will need to complete Form I-526. The fee for Form I-526 is $3,675 and no fee waiver is available. If USCIS approves the petition, you can apply for a visa at a US embassy or consulate. Eventually, you will need to complete Form DS-260 as well.
Student Visa Forms
Many foreign nationals apply for student visas that allow them to pursue education or training in the US. The two main types of student visas are F visas for people attending academic institutions and M visas for people attending vocational or other non-academic institutions. If you plan to pursue an F visa or an M visa, you will need to complete Form I-20, a certificate of eligibility for non-immigrant student status. You also will need to pay a Form I-901 SEVIS fee before entering the US.
Visitor Visa Forms
Certain types of visitor visas are available to foreign nationals who want to come to the US for limited business or personal purposes. A business visitor can apply for a B-1 visa, while a B-2 visa is available to a foreign national who is touring the US or visiting family or friends there. To pursue a visitor visa, you may need to complete Form DS-160 and attend an interview at a US embassy or consulate, in addition to compiling required documents. However, you will not need to complete Form DS-160 if you are a citizen of a country that participates in the visa waiver program (VWP). In that situation, you will need to get an electronic passport and apply through the ESTA online system for an electronic travel authorization.
Forms for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Created by the administration of President Barack Obama in 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has allowed certain foreign nationals who came to the US as children to request temporary protection from deportation. DACA has been controversial throughout its existence, and as of 2021, DACA remains available only to foreign nationals who have received it in the past. To request protection under DACA, you will need to file Form I-821D, known as consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals.
Forms for Immigration Relief
Unfortunately, some foreign nationals may face deportation (removal) from the US based on various grounds that are specified in the INA. The Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) provides a list of forms that may be used in immigration court during deportation proceedings. If you disagree with a decision by an immigration judge, for example, you can file Form EOIR-26 to pursue an appeal.
These forms also include applications for immigration relief, such as cancellation of removal or withholding of removal. A foreign national who is applying for cancellation of removal as a permanent resident (green card holder) will need to file Form EOIR-42A, while a foreign national will need to file Form EOIR-42B for cancellation of removal if they are not a permanent resident. Form I-589 is the appropriate form if you are seeking withholding of removal.