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Immigrants, get ready to shell out more in citizenship application fees

Felicia Persaud | 1/5/2017, 9:56 a.m.

It’s just gotten more expensive to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. Happy New Year immigrants!

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced the fee increase as an early New Year’s stunner Dec. 23, 2016. Qualified immigrants seeking to take the next step and become U.S. citizens will now have to shell out $640 to submit their N-400 Application for Naturalization. That’s up from $595. But once you are approved and are ready to get your Certificate of Citizenship via the N-600/N-600K Application for Certificate of Citizenship, get ready to really shell out the big bucks.

That cost has almost doubled, from $600 to $1,170. Of course, that includes the $85 biometric services fee. The only saving grace is that certain low-income naturalization applicants may pay a filing fee of $320 plus the biometric services fee by filing Form I-942, Request for Reduced Fee and Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.

This fee increase means the path to becoming an American could become a heavier burden for many cash-strapped would-be citizens even though the U.S. CIS says this increase is the first fee increase in six years.

Other services have also seen a fee increase. Those immigrants filing the I-698 Application to Adjust Status from Temporary to Permanent Resident will now have to pay $1,640, up from $1,020. If you are applying for a work permit, get ready to pay $410, up from $380 for the I-765 Application for Employment Authorization.

If you are filing to sponsor your immigrant parent, spouse or sibling, get ready to pay $535, up from $420. Those sponsoring a fiancé or fiancée must now also pay the $535 fee, up from $340. If you have lost your green card or permanent residency card and need to replace it, get ready to pay $445, up from $365, when you submit the I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. The full new fee schedule from the USCIS can be accessed at https://www.uscis.gov/forms/our-fees.

The agency argues it must increase application fees because it is funded almost entirely by fees and there is a rising cost associated with fraud detection and national security, customer service and case processing, and providing services without charge or fee waivers and exemptions for those who are eligible for U.S. immigration benefits.

But one can only speculate whether the changing of the guard and all the talk of building a border wall means there is a new internal “wall” now in place to keep fewer immigrants from becoming new U.S. residents, citizens and, of course, new voters.

The writer is CMO at Hard Beat Communications, Inc.