Cost of Citizenship is Less Than You Think

3 Ways to Beat the Cost of Citizenship before the Price Increase

cost of citizenship for new americansOne of the common reasons permanent residents don’t apply for U.S. citizenship – cost. It presently costs $680 to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. That’s a lot of money. And the cost of citizenship is about to increase.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that it intends to increase the cost to file several forms. USCIS budget isn’t funded by tax payers. Instead, it operates on income generated from the forms that you are forced to file. When their operational costs increase, that cost gets pushed to the immigrant paying for services. The cost to file the N-400 form will increase from $680 to $725. The exact date this citizenship cost increase will be implemented is unknown, but it is expected to happen this summer.

In fact, it will become more expensive to file most USCIS immigration forms. The best way to escape this cycle is to become a U.S. citizen. After naturalizing as a U.S. citizen, you won’t need to pay anymore USCIS fees or file forms. Over a lifetime, that can save you and your family thousands of dollars.

You can save yourself a lot of money by naturalizing now. Here are some of the ways that you can beat the costs of U.S. citizenship:

#1

The cost of citizenship is significantly less that keeping a green card.

It actually costs less to become a U.S. citizen when you take a look at the long term costs. How much? It will probably amaze you.

Did you know that the average 30 year-old permanent resident will pay another $4,428 over his lifetime in green card renewal fees? Check your own costs with the Citizenship Cost Calculator.

Most permanent residents have a green card that must be renewed every 10 years. The current USCIS fee for replacing or renewing a green card is $450. So every 10 years you will pay to renew a green card. Don’t forget, if the green card is lost, stolen or damaged, it will cost another $450 to replace it. And USCIS fees keep increasing for green card renewal also. Over just the last 10 years USCIS fees for green card renewal have increased significantly. USCIS will increase the cost this summer.

But there is a one-time USCIS fee for the naturalization application. Over a lifetime, U.S. citizenship is much less expensive. After all, you won’t ever have to pay another USCIS fee again!

#2

You can now pay the cost of citizenship with a credit card.

There is only one USCIS form that can be paid with credit card – Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.

If you don’t have the entire filing fee, simply submit Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions, with your N-400. If you choose to pay with a credit or gift card, you must pay the entire fee using a single card.

You may use Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. You may also use gift cards with Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover logos.

#3

Low income families can file a fee waiver.

Because some applicants cannot afford to pay the filing fees, USCIS established a fee waiver process for the citizenship application. USCIS will approve a fee waiver if you clearly demonstrate that you are unable to pay the filing fees.

USCIS will provide a fee waiver for Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, if you provide documentation showing that you qualify based upon one of the following criteria:

  • You, your spouse, or the head of household living with you, are currently receiving a means-tested benefit. Examples of means-tested benefits programs include: Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • Your household income is at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines at the time you file. Check the current Federal Poverty Guidelines for this year at Form I-912P, HHS Poverty Guidelines for Fee Waiver Requests. For example, a household of four could not have household income of more than $36,450 to qualify in 2016 (within the 48 contiguous states).
  • You are currently experiencing financial hardship that prevents you from paying the filing fee, including unexpected medical bills or emergencies.

To request a fee waiver, you can submit Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, with your Form N-400. Be sure to include proof that you meet the criteria. Additional instructions and examples of evidence can be found on the USCIS Fee Waiver page.

Filing N-400 Without a Lawyer

naturalizing us citizenship cost

People with straight-forward cases (e.g. no immigration violations or arrests) can generally file Form N-400 without a lawyer. But still, the citizenship application can be a daunting process.

CitizenPath is a low-cost service that was created to make preparing the application easy. Designed by immigration attorneys, it’s a do-it-yourself service that puts you in control. The software will help you avoid common errors that result in N-400 rejections. Alerts will let you know if an answer is problematic.

There’s no sign up or credit card required to get started. Upon completion, you’ll receive a neatly prepared application that’s ready to sign and file. You’ll also get simple instructions that tell you exactly what to do. Customer support is also standing by to help. Try it now.

Source: USCIS