Washington D.C. - After years of advocacy, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced proposed changes to their Naturalization fees. CHIRLA has worked in collaboration with NPNA and other member organizations to push to lower the barriers to American citizenship. There are currently 8.8 million people eligible to become citizens in th U.S., 2.1 million eligible in the state of California, 768,024 individuals in the Los Angeles County and 1 million individuals who would benefit from a partial fee waiver.
The changes would include an increase in the naturalization fee from $595 to $640--not including the $85 cost for biometrics--and a partial fee waiver for individuals eligible for naturalization and living between 150-200% of the poverty line. For families of four, the new partial fee waiver will apply to those earning $36,450 - $48,600. USCIS has an open comment period for 30-60 days, which means that the fee structure is open to change after the period for public comments is closed. Implementation of the proposed rules is to take place at the beginning of the 2017 Fiscal Year.
"Citizenship should be attainable for those who are eligible because we want immigrants to become citizens and the fee waiver policy will help," said Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez. "Citizenship says to america that you are all-in; that you are fully vested and a full partner; that you are willing to shoulder the responsibilities and enoy the prividlegdes of citizenship. Whether you can be a U.S. citizens should never be a matetr of whether you are wealthy or not."
While this is a great step forward, CHIRLA will continue to advocate for the reduction of fees to ensure that citizenship is easier to access for our communities.