US citizenship application fee hike slammed as anti-immigrant
August 6, 2020 at 9:42 am

Socially distanced new US citizens swearing in. The application fee for naturalization is going to increase. AP PHOTO

WASHINGTON, D.C. Applying for US citizenship has become more expensive. The naturalization application fee will rise from $640 to $1,170 effective October 2, 2020, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced in the Federal Register.

Civil rights advocates are denouncing this rule change “the latest anti-immigrant action to be carried out by the Trump Administration,” charging that the fee rise will be an added burden to immigrants and will deter many from applying to become U.S. citizens.

Aside from finalizing increases to many immigration fees, USCIS also announced that it will eliminate the fee waiver for naturalization with very few exceptions, as well as the reduced fee option.

Critics say that without the possibility of financial assistance, many immigrants who would have struggled to afford the application fees before will now be priced out entirely.

Marita Etcubañez, director of strategic initiatives at Advancing Justice | AAJC said: “We know that many Americans would have been hard-pressed to cover an emergency expense of $400 before. It is unconscionable for USCIS to implement drastic fee increases at a time that we are dealing with a pandemic and widespread unemployment. Furthermore, USCIS is doubling down on burdening immigrants by abolishing most fee waivers. These actions are an attack on aspiring new Americans and put citizenship further out of reach. Our organizations will continue to oppose the fee increase and the elimination of naturalization-related fee waivers. We will continue to work alongside immigrants’ rights advocates to ensure that citizenship remains accessible and affordable to all.”

In response to USCIS’s rule change, Asian Americans Advancing Justice affiliate organizations in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C., are urging eligible Americans to naturalize before these new measures take effect. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused many organizations to limit services or availability, which will further challenge eligible Americans’ access to assistance before the rule change takes effect on October 2, 2020.

Information about how to access assistance in the Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. areas can be found here:

English: 888-349-9695

Korean: 800-867-3640

Mandarin/Cantonese: 800-520-2356

Tagalog: 855-300-2552

Thai: 800-914-9583

For information about organizations providing naturalization assistance throughout the country, see www.NewAmericans

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