You won the green card: how much will it cost to complete paperwork and move to the USA
So, you won the green card in the lottery from the US Department of State. Congratulations, but we advise you not to relax: the path from winning the lottery to getting the actual green card is very long and thorny. You can read about it in detail here... In addition to bureaucratic red tape, the process of paperwork and moving will cost you a pretty penny. We calculated how much it will cost.
Free but important
After you checked the results on the official website dvprogram.state.gov and find out about the victory, you need to fill out an immigration visa application form - form DS-260 (online). It's free for lottery winners. If your family composition has changed since the registration for participation in the lottery (you got married, gave birth to a child), then the new family members must be indicated in your DS-260 form, otherwise you may be disqualified.
Keep in mind: for each family member - a separate form of DS-260. This is an important nuance, and if you fill out one form for the whole family, then immediately leave the marathon “get a green card”. Here we are not spending money.
While you are waiting for a response from the visa center and collect all the necessary documents (their list here), you need to undergo a medical examination, it is a mandatory requirement for lottery winners.
A medical commission is needed to determine if you or someone in your family has a medical condition on the list of restrictions on travel to the United States. It, in particular, includes mental illness, active form of tuberculosis, leprosy and others. A list of medical conditions that prevent you from obtaining an immigrant visa can be found here.
The commission should not be held anywhere, but in special certified centers, the addresses of which are indicated here (This is a list of U.S. consular offices in different countries that can enroll you for a visa medical examination). You must make an appointment and make an appointment yourself. The State Department or the embassy will not contact you and set up procedures for you.
By the time of the interview, you should have time to undergo a physical examination and get all the necessary vaccinations. List of vaccinations required here.
The cost of this procedure can be from $ 100 to $ 500, but on average is $ 215 for each member of the family planning to immigrate, vaccination is paid separately.
That is, if a family of three (spouses with a child) plans to move to the USA, then they will spend about $ 650 on a physical examination.
After that, the participants in the process will be interviewed at the consulate or embassy. Here you will need originals and translations into English of all documents, the results of the medical examination and an invitation to an interview directly. On the spot, at the embassy, you will need to pay a visa fee - $ 330 for each family member (this money will not be returned, regardless of whether you will be issued an immigrant visa or not).
That is, here our family of three will pay another $ 990.
If you have passed the interview, you will be granted a semi-annual visa. It is within 6 months that all members of the family, or only the main applicant, will need to enter the United States, otherwise the visa will be canceled.
Now let's take the cost of moving. We included in it the price of air tickets, rental housing and the cost of products for a month. We assume that for a month newly arrived immigrants will be able to find work and cover their expenses already in place.
Considering that the process of paperwork is quite lengthy, you will be flying in at least six months. Now, due to the pandemic and international tensions, many flights have been canceled or limited, so it is difficult to predict even the approximate cost at the time of the flight. But still we tried. According to the Skyscanner website, if you fly from Kiev to New York in January, then the most a cheap ticket will cost $ 335, a direct flight - $ 549.
A direct flight from Moscow on the same date will cost $ 266.
That is, we can say that on average you will need $ 300-350 per person, that is, about $ 1000 for a family of three.
Of course, the price may depend on many circumstances and factors, including the city you decide to fly to in the United States, the number of transfers, etc.
We examined the average cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment (an economical option for a family of three) in cities where Russian-speaking immigrants most often relocate.
Data for 2020 (Apartment List National Rent Report):
- Chicago (Illinois) - $ 1
- Los Angeles (California) - $ 1
- Miami (Florida) - $ 1
- New York (New York) - $ 2 130
- San Diego (California) - $ 1
- San Francisco (California) - $ 2
- Seattle, Washington - $ 1
- Washington DC - $ 1
On average, it comes out about $ 1400 per month. Keep in mind that when renting a home in the United States, in most cases, you need to pay not one month, but two (the first and the last), as well as a deposit, usually equal to the amount of rent for the month (it will be returned to you when you move out if you you won't break anything in the apartment). In the final calculation of expenses, we simply indicated the cost of a monthly rental without a deposit and payment of the last month, but in reality, you most likely should add a couple of thousand dollars to the rental amount for these contributions.
It should also be understood that if you choose a smaller city and in less expensive states, the cost of renting housing will be significantly lower, but finding a job can be more difficult.
US Department of Agriculture regularly publishes report on average food expenses American families. According to this document, much depends on the age of children and adults and their eating habits. But in any case, a family of three will not be able to meet less than $ 500 per month.
We add here transport, the Internet and some unplanned expenses - this is another $ 160 monthly on average (if you approach business very economically).
Lottery winners come to the United States on a 6-month visa and must receive a green card on the spot. For the execution of this document, USCIS will take, at current rates, $ 220. That's another $ 660 per family.
As a result, we get the cost of moving to the USA after winning the lottery (for a family of three):
- medical examination - $ 650
- visa fee - $ 990
- flight - $ 1000
- housing - $ 1400
- food - $ 500
- other expenses - $ 160
- green card registration - $ 660
Total: $ 5 360
If at the time of winning you are already in the USA, then the official change of immigration status will cost more than all the immigration fees that would have to be paid to the winner in his home country. But in this case, you, most likely, have already resolved the issue of housing, work, and there is no need to fly somewhere.
So, you will need to pay the lottery winner's immigration fee - $ 330, as well as $ 1 for a petition to change status (including biometrics fees).
For a child under the age of 14, the fee for changing the status is $ 750 if the application is submitted together with the petition of the parents. No biometric fee is charged.
As a result, for those who already live in the United States (a family of three), we receive $ 4 ($ 190 - visa fee for three, $ 990 - two petitions to change status for adults, $ 750 - petition to change status for a child).
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