The cost to become a naturalized United States citizen will increase by over $500, effective October 2, according to a rule change recently published in the Federal Register.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will raise the application fee to become a naturalized citizen from $640 to $1,170, the final rule on Friday, July 31 said.
The changes, which also update the fees for immigration applications like H-1B visas, come after a review from the agency that said the current fees “do not recover the cost of providing adjudication and naturalization services.”
“USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures and make adjustments based on that analysis,” said Joseph Edlow, USCIS deputy director for policy. “These overdue adjustments in fees are necessary to efficiently and fairly administer our nation’s lawful immigration system, secure the homeland and protect Americans.”
The current fees leave the agency, which is funded by fees, underfunded by nearly $1 billion annually, it argued.
There will also be a $50 charge for seeking asylum. Other countries that impose a fee for this are Iran, Fiji and Australia.
“A $50 fee is in line with the fees charged by these other nations,” the USCIS said.
Community organizations like Asian Americans Advancing Justice are urging immigrants eligible for citizenship to naturalize before the new measures take effect in October. They also argue that the fee increase will prevent many from applying to become citizens.
“This rule change will deeply hurt the low-income immigrants and vulnerable communities of color we serve at a time when those very communities are hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Christine Chen, project director for Advancing Justice-LA, said in a statement.
Together with the New Americans Campaign, the organization provides low-cost, or free, legal guidance to eligible Americans through the naturalization application process. Information can be obtained through the hotline at (888) 349-9695 for English or (885) 300-2552 in Tagalog.
This final rule is effective Oct. 2, 2020. Any application, petition, or request postmarked on or after this date must include payment of the new, correct fees established by this final rule, the USCIS said. (AJPress)