immigration /

Citizenship Application Fee Increased for First Time in 8 years

Migration advocates worry the higher costs will burden large families who hope to reside in the U.S.

Citizenship Application Fee Increased for First Time in 8 years

The cost of legally immigrating to the United States will increase for some applicants following new changes implemented by United States Immigration Services.

Pro-immigration advocates have criticized the application fee hikes, which they say could adversely impact immigrant families. 

Forms to request immigration status adjustment and employment, forms related to family-based immigration and forms overseeing naturalization benefits will all be increased as of April 1. The fee for a naturalization form, an N-400, will rise from $640 to $760. The paperwork to apply for legal permanent residency, sometimes called a green card, will jump from $1,760 to $3,500. A K-1 Fiancé Visa and a CR-1 Spousal Visa will both increase by $140 to a total fee of $675.

“[The Department of Homeland Security] does not believe that the fee increases implemented in this final rule will impose unreasonable burdens on petitioners,” the report from USIS. “DHS in its fee review did not target specific groups and recognizes that fees impose a burden on individuals seeking benefits, and it takes steps to mitigate the cost as appropriate. At the same time, DHS must recover the full costs of the services that USCIS provides, or else risk reductions in service quality, including potential delays in processing.”

The USIS is legally obligated to conduct a fee review every two years. Paying the non-refundable application fee does not guarantee approval.

The new guidelines will expand who can qualify for a reduced rate to anyone who earns below 400% of the federal poverty guideline. However, the reduced rate will now be $380 – a $60 increase, per The Hill

“This will put some immigrant families in a difficult position. Larger families may have to decide to pay for the applications of certain family members before others because they can’t afford to pay them all at once,” said Adriel Orozco, senior policy counsel at American Immigration Council’s Immigration Impact, per Reckon.News.

Migration advocates previously challenged a rate hike proposed under President Donald Trump.

In 2020, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services bumped the fee for naturalization more than 80% to $1,170 and ended the fee waiver for vulnerable people, including asylum-seekers,” reports USA Today. “Immigrant rights groups sued and a federal judge prevented the new rules from taking effect, saying the agency violated the law by failing to provide adequate notice and an opportunity for public comment.”

According to data from USIS, the agency received 10.9 immigration filings in 2023 and completed more than 10 million pending cases – decreasing its backlog by 15%. The processing time for naturalization applications decreased from 10.5 months to 6.1 months by the end of 2023.

The agency reported administering more than 878,500 Oath of Allegiances to new citizens, including 12,000 members of the military.

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