U.S. Citizenship Application Costs Are Increasing

Under the Trump administration, the cost to become a US citizen is about to go up to an historical high in 2020. The Department of Homeland Security is seeking to increase the cost to become a US citizen to $1,170. This cost actually outpaces inflation. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security want to impose a fee for asylum seekers. Presently, only Iran, Fiji and Australia charge a fee for asylum. The proposed increased fee works out to be one week’s salary for the average American. Had the increase stayed neck in neck with inflation, it would be only $85.

While the US Citizenship and Immigration Services is required to review its fees every two years, this new increase is incredibly high for immigrants. So, here’s what’s going up.

“Application such as waivers, family- and employment-based applications, nonimmigrant visas and other petitions are going up in price. For example:

• N-400, the citizenship application, will rise from $640 to $1,170.
• Form I-881, a petition to cancel or suspend removal from the U.S., will rise from $285 to $1,800.
• Form I-765, a work authorization application, will rise from $410 to $490.
• The overall cost of renewals for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals will increase from $495 to $765.
• For the first time the U.S. will also charge a fee for asylum applications. They will cost $50.”

According to Immigration Services Director, Ken Cuccinelli, “This proposed increase would ensure more applicants cover the true cost of applications and minimizes subsidies from an already over extended system. Under the current system, it is underfunded by approximately 1.3 billion per year.” Many are saying that the increase is just another anti-immigration move by the Trump administration, and it would definitely cause a hardship for those applying for US citizenship. Some have even said that it’s just another tactic to restrict immigration to America.

The Trump administration is known to make moves like this. Recently, the judicial branch rejected a rule to implement a public charge for those seeking a green card if they needed public assistance. The court also rejected another proposal to have immigrants get health insurance within 30 days of entering the country.

Those in economics are perplexed by the Trump administration. They claim that immigration has a good impact on economic growth and innovation. They also state that immigrants are also much less likely to commit a crime than any native-born American. It is also noted that the American population has been in decline. It’s well below 2,100 births. Immigration would certainly help the decline in the American population. Experts have stated that the Trump administration has been a key factor in the decline of the American population.

Immigration advocacy groups are advising immigrants to naturalize and become US citizens before the cost goes up. This is definitely going to be a barrier for working class and low income citizens. Republican Jesus Garcia of Illinois feels that the new immigration system will only serve the elite. Many Mexicans have said that they would like to become a US citizen, but the cost is too high. Garcia is now trying to introduce a bill that limits the Trump administration on raising citizenship fee. He’s also implementing a bill for funding for immigration applicants.

While many American may take their citizenship for granted, there are many who struggle to get it. It’s already a tough process. You first must get an immigrant visa, and that cost ranges from $799 to $1,880. The only free visas are allocated to Afghan and Iraqi immigrants. After you get a visa, you’ve got to get a green card to legally work in the country. And it’s not cheap. It cost around $2,400. Many immigrants find they have to hire an attorney, and this can cost up to $4,000. After you’ve lived in the country for 5 years, then you can apply for American citizenship. One can see how all of the costs for citizenship tally up to a lot. Yet, despite this, the Trump administration wants to increase the overall costs for immigrant. It can wind up costing immigrants a small fortune.

Becoming a US citizen has many benefits. It gives one and one’s family protection from being deported. And if an immigrant naturalizes, their children automatically become citizens, too. Naturalized citizens make more money and have access to more jobs. US citizens can apply for federal jobs and get US passports for business travel. Most citizens are college educated, have better educational opportunities and can gain better jobs.

Not only is the Trump administration raising the cost to become a US citizen, they are eliminating some of the waivers for low-income immigrants, which would make it less expensive for them to apply for US citizenship. The Trump administration claims it will use the extra revenue to increase border security. Many immigration attorneys feel the Trump administration’s move to increase the cost to become a US citizen is immigration fraud.

If you have questions or have a need for legal help, Attorney Jason Ankeny is a former U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service Officer/U.S. Customs & Border Protection Officer. Jason knows the agency mandate and expectations and uses his administrative law experience to the benefit of his clients. Our office provides professional legal services relating to all immigration legal needs.