Ask anyone who has gone through the naturalization process about their experience and there's a very good chance that they will tell you that while the end result was rewarding beyond belief, getting there was not without its challenges. Indeed, there's a very good chance that they'll also share how the application fees associated with the process, set by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, were by no means nominal.
As it turns out, the fees associated with the immigration process are slated to increase across the board on December 23 with the standard naturalization fee increasing from $680 to $725, the certificate of citizenship increasing from $600 to $1,170 and the relative petition form increasing from $420 to $535.
While these price hikes are undoubtedly disconcerting, some of those looking to naturalize -- meaning make the transition from lawful permanent residents to U.S. citizens -- should find solace in the recent announcement of a new rule by USCIS.
What does the new rule say?
Last week, USCIS announced a new partial waiver rule allowing those naturalization-eligible immigrants who fall somewhere between 150 to 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines, meaning $36,450 to $48,600 per year for a four-person household, to qualify for a reduced application fee of $320.
Are there any other waivers rules in effect?
Currently, those naturalization-eligible immigrants who fall below the 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines are entitled to a full fee waiver.
How many people would stand to benefit from these waivers?
USCIS data indicates that there are currently 8.5 million naturalization-eligible immigrants here in the U.S., and that the new partial fee waiver would benefit close to one million of them and, together with the full fee waiver, close to 3.7 million of them.
What's been the response to the partial fee waiver?
The partial fee waiver for naturalization has been widely embraced by advocacy groups, particularly in light of the upcoming increases. However, several have also pressed USCIS to expand the waiver to cover more people.
Consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can provide the necessary assistance if you have any question or concerns relating to the complex naturalization process.