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What is happening to immigration fees?

Pat Malone • August 07, 2020

The USCIS (government) announced higher fees for many immigration applications, including citizenship. New rules make it hard or impossible to get a fee waiver too. The higher fees are scheduled to start October 2, 2020. 

Advocates will fight to keep the fees lower. But we don't know if the courts will stop the increases or Congress will change the laws. The safest way to avoid the higher fees is to apply for citizenship now. 

 

How much will it cost to apply for citizenship?

Now it costs $725 to apply for citizenship. This includes the N-400 form fee ($640) and the fingerprinting, or "biometrics" fee ($85). Starting October 2, 2020, it will cost $1,170 to apply for citizenship. 

 

Can I get a fee waiver or pay less if my income is low?

If your income is low and you apply now, you may qualify for a full or partial fee waiver. But starting October 2, 2020, most people will have to pay the full (and more expensive) citizenship application fee. 

Full fee waiver

You may qualify for a fee waiver now, if your income is below 150% of the federal poverty guidelines.  If you get a full fee waiver, you pay $0 to apply for citizenship. Starting October 2, 2020, most people will not qualify for a fee waiver. (Exceptions: naturalization applicants who were VAWA self-petitioners, T or U nonimmigrants, some SIJS applicants and Afghan and Iraqi translators). 

Partial fee waiver

You may qualify for a partial fee waiver now, if your income is between 150% and 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. If you get a partial fee waiver, you pay $405 to apply for citizenship. BUT the government will end the partial fee waiver on October 2, 2020. 

 

When do the fees go up?

The fees will increase on October 2, 2020, unless:

  • a lawsuit delays or stops the changes, or 
  • Congress changes the laws.

 

If you are ready to apply for citizenship....

  1. Check your eligibility. Try the Citizenshipworks pre-screening
  2. Start filling out the application forms. Citizenshipworks is a free and safe guide to help.
  3. Find out if you qualify for a fee waiver or reduced fee. Try this calculator: https://www.newamericanscampaign.org/fee-waiver/ Click here to read more about the fees and fee waiver. 
  4. Find out if you need legal help. Citizenshipworks will ask questions about your immigration history,  marriage, selective service, taxes, any arrests, or other complications. If you need legal help, Citizenshipworks connects you to our nonprofit legal service partners for free or low-cost legal help.  

 

Finally, allow enough time for the process. It takes time to find information and documents, and fill out the forms. It takes time to get legal help. If you are ready to apply, start today.

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