US Citizenship Costs Set to Increase

US Citizenship Costs Set to Increase

Learn about the upcoming hike in US citizenship and green card fees affecting millions. Get tips on beating the price increase and securing your citizenship.

Introduction to Fee Increases

The journey towards US citizenship is becoming more expensive. 

Starting April 1, legal permanent residents in the United States who aspire to become citizens will face higher application fees. 

This increase affects more than 9 million individuals eligible for US citizenship who still need to apply. 

According to the Office of Homeland Security Statistics, the cost of naturalization applications will rise by as much as 19%.

Understanding the Price Hike

The application process for US citizenship, which involves the N-400 form, will see its fees increase from $640 for paper applications to $760, which includes the fingerprint (biometrics) fee. 

This adjustment is a significant drop from the fee hikes proposed by the Trump administration, which a federal judge ultimately blocked. 

These proposed changes would have increased naturalization fees by more than 80% to $1,170 and eliminated fee waivers for vulnerable populations.

Impact on Green Card Applicants

For those seeking to adjust their status to legal permanent residency, the “green card” process will also become more expensive. 

The total cost for this process will jump from $1,760 to $3,005. 

However, individuals earning below 400% of the federal poverty guideline will still be eligible for a reduced rate, increasing from $320 to $380.

Challenges and Recommendations

The fee increases pose significant challenges for families, especially when multiple family members apply for naturalization, as each individual must pay a separate application fee. 

Immigration attorneys advise those considering naturalization to apply before the April 1 deadline to avoid the higher fees. 

However, applicants should know that applying does not guarantee approval, and the fees are non-refundable.

USCIS Fee Adjustments and Services

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) aims to adjust fees across various applications to fully recover costs and maintain service quality. 

Despite the increases, the goal is to improve processing times and customer service, which have been a contention among applicants and advocacy groups. 

The American Immigration Lawyers Association has called for fee increases to reduce processing backlogs and improve the agency’s efficiency.

Naturalization Process and Voting Rights

The path to US citizenship involves applying, fulfilling residency requirements, demonstrating good moral character, and passing language and civics tests. 

The timeline for naturalization varies, with USCIS working to reduce wait times. 

Successful applicants may be able to participate in upcoming elections, depending on the timing of their application and local voter registration rules.

Conclusion: Navigating the Fee Increase

The upcoming fee increase for US citizenship applications underscores the importance of early submission for those seeking to naturalize. 

With costs rising and the political landscape around immigration remaining volatile, securing US citizenship can provide a sense of security and stability. 

Immigration experts emphasize the benefits of advancing legal status in the US, especially during heightened anti-immigrant rhetoric.

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