Immigration Fee Increases In Context
On January 31, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) proposed increased
fees for immigration benefits. Under the proposed increase, the cost for naturalization
would rise 80 percent from $330 to $595 for adult applicants and from $255 to $460 for
children, the fee for lawful permanent residence would rise 178 percent from $325 to
$905, and the fee for fingerprinting would rise 14 percent from $70 to $80. The public
has until April 2, 2007, to file written comments. The changes will take effect in June
2007, at the earliest.
Lawful permanent residents in the United States are eligible to naturalize after five
years of residence in the country, or three years for those married to a US citizen.
Naturalization requires passage of an English and civics exam, as well as clearance of
background checks and payment of the application fee.
Current Costs and Proposed Increase
Based on the current $330 application fee for adult applicants, $255 for children, and
$70 for fingerprinting, a family of four would pay $1,450 to naturalize. Under the
proposed increases, that cost would rise to $2,430. Many immigrants also pay for
English and civics classes to prepare for the naturalization exam, assistance in
preparing the application, and application photographs.
Immigration fees have been raised six times since the 1988 law establishing that
immigration applications should be funded by user fees. The fee for an adult applicant
for naturalization was set at $60 in 1989. It was raised to $90 in 1991, $95 in 1994,
$225 in 1999, $260 in 2002, $320 in 2003, and $330 in 2005.
High Costs May Discourage Naturalization
High costs for naturalization may be one factor that discourages low-income
immigrants from naturalizing at the same rates as higher-income immigrants. In 2000-
2001, when the fee for adult naturalization was $225, 41 percent of lawful permanent
residents who were eligible but had not naturalized had incom