The Department of Homeland Security announced a rule on July 31, that adjusts fees for certain immigration and naturalization benefit requests.
The rule accounts for increased costs to adjudicate immigration benefit requests, detect and deter immigration fraud, and thoroughly vet applicants, petitioners and beneficiaries. It supports payroll, technology and operations to accomplish the USCIS mission; removes certain fee exemptions, includes new nominal fees for asylum applicants, and reduces fee waivers to help recover the costs of adjudication. Also encourages online filing by providing a $10 reduction in the fee for applicants who submit forms online that are electronically available from USCIS. Online filing is the most secure, efficient, cost-effective and convenient way to submit a request with USCIS.
This rule will start on October 2, legal immigrants eligible to apply for citizenship will pay $1,160 if they submit their application online and $1,170 if submitting a paper application. This is at least $520 more to apply for citizenship. That is more than 80% higher than the current application fee of $640.
Most of the fee waivers that allowed lower income immigrants to apply for naturalization for free are also being eliminated. And for the first time, people fleeing persecution in their home countries will have to pay a $50 fee to apply for asylum if they are not in deportation proceedings. In the past, there has been no cost to apply for asylum.
However, analysts said the fee increase will result in fewer legal permanent residents, especially lower-income immigrants, applying for citizenship, limiting their political power because only U.S. citizens can vote.