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Applying for citizenship could soon become much more expensive

Immigrants hoping to become naturalized citizens of the U.S. have to overcome many obstacles. One of those hurdles may soon be getting much larger.

The current administration has proposed raising the citizenship application fee by hundreds of dollars. It is a decision that, if it goes into effect as expected, would make the process prohibitively expensive for some families and individuals.

The cost of applying for citizenship

Anyone that has considered applying for U.S. citizenship has likely heard of Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. This form, from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is what allows eligible applicants to seek naturalization.

To file this form, you must pay a fee, which currently sits at $640. You will also likely need to pay a biometrics charge of $85. In total, applying to become a naturalized citizen will cost about $725.

The proposed new rules would change that significantly.

Under the new rules, applicants would no longer need to pay the biometrics charge. The fee for filing the N-400, however, would increase to $1,170. That’s a hike of $445, or about 61%. The agency also proposed eliminating a program that allows some applicants to pay a reduced fee.

This hefty fee might be unaffordable for some permanent residents, leaving them not only stuck, but at risk of losing their permanent residency status for any number of actions that U.S. authorities consider immoral.

When will these changes take effect?

This proposed increase to Form N-400 was made public in November of 2019. This specific fee hike is just one of many put forward. Overall, immigration fees could increase by an average of 21%, with additional cost increases for:

  • DACA renewals
  • Asylum-seekers
  • Legal permanent residents
  • Certain employment visas
  • And many more

As of early February 2020, the proposed rule changes were still open for public comment and had not yet been instituted. That could easily change in the weeks and months ahead. If you or a loved one have been considering applying for citizenship, keep this possibility in mind as you put together your plans.