On October 2, the fee to apply to become a United States citizen will increase just over 80 percent.
The current fee for the N-400, the application for naturalization, is $640. After the end of this week, to file online will be $1,160 and $1,170 to do paper filing.
The announcement of these fees came over the summer to ensure the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services “recovers its costs of services,” explaining that current fees would leave the agency underfunded by about $1 billion per year. The government agency primarily runs on the fees it collects.
The full list of fee changes can be found from the USCIS website (jump to page 14). There are numerous increases, though the fee for a permanent resident card (AKA “green card”) dropped slightly. Still, the cost amount will remain at a high $1,130.
USCIS says the “final rule,” which encompasses these fee adjustments, is necessary for detecting and deterring immigration fraud, thoroughly vetting applications and benefit requests and supporting payroll, technology and operations. Unfortunately, the sizable increase only intensifies the high barriers to become a United States citizen.
Boundless, a company that offers services to help people navigate the immigration system, noted that the naturalization fee 35 years ago was $35 and if it had only risen with inflation, that fee would now be $85.
There is a fee waiver request (I-912) for numerous services (instructions here). To meet eligibility requirements however, a 4-person family’s annual income would have to be $39,300 or less. In addition, the waiver cannot be used by DACA recipients.
In order to pay the current fees, applicants will have to postmark any application, petition or request before October 2.