Fee Hikes for Aspiring Americans

Every two years, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a fee-funded government agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is required to review the fees that they collected and make adjustments. This month they completed their review and announced that fees across the board will be raised by an average of 21 percent (21%). Aspiring citizens will be most impacted by the increase in the already-high naturalization fee which is slated to rise 6.6 percent (6.6%). Currently, the application fee is up to $680, including $85 for bio-metrics. This will be increased to $725.

However, USCIS also proposes to implement a partial fee waiver which would reduce the naturalization fee to $405 ($320 plus a bio-metrics fee of $85) for families living between 150 – 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

For families of four, the new partial fee waiver would apply to those earning between $36,450 and $48,600. Individuals earning up to 150 percent (150%) of the federal poverty level will continue to be eligible for a full fee waiver. This fee waiver allows the poor a better chance at becoming American citizens.

Currently, many of the 8.8 million legal permanent residents eligible for citizenship are not taking the leap. One of their primary barriers is the application cost of naturalization. Citizenship is good for immigrants and the United States and offers many social and economical benefits for individuals, families, and communities. Addressing this cost of naturalization is important, so that citizenship becomes more than a privilege for only those who can afford it.

See the website of John J. Hykel.