AAPI Groups Push Naturalization Workshops As USCIS Increases Citizenship Fees by 80 Percent

USCIS Additionally Moves to Abolish Fee Waivers Amid the Increase
For Immediate Release
Contact
Michelle Boykins 202-296-2300, ext. 0144 mboykins@advancingjustice-aajc.org
Mary Tablante 202-296-2300, ext. 0114 mtablante@advancingjustice-aajc.org

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently released a notice that it will raise the naturalization application fee to $1,170. This is an increase of 83% over the current fee of $640.  The cost of applying for naturalization is already a barrier for many aspiring U.S. citizens.

USCIS also announced it will abolish available fee waivers for naturalization. With this change, USCIS has made clear its intent to reserve U.S. citizenship for only the wealthiest immigrants.

John C. Yang, president and executive director of Advancing Justice | AAJC said: “At a time where 40 percent of Americans cannot cover a $400 emergency expense, it’s not a stretch to see how this announced fee increase adds a greater financial burden to applicants and puts citizenship even further out of reach. The Asian Americans Advancing Justice affiliation will oppose the fee increase and the elimination of naturalization-related fee waivers. We will work alongside partner immigrants’ rights advocates to ensure citizenship remains accessible and affordable to all.”

 In response to the USCIS announcement, Asian Americans Advancing Justice affiliate organizations are urging eligible Americans to naturalize before these new measures take effect.  

Stephanie Cho of Advancing Justice - Atlanta said: "This proposal is a blatant attempt to prevent low-income immigrants from becoming U.S. citizens. High filing fees are an insurmountable obstacle for many of the individuals Advancing Justice serves. Naturalization is a crucial pathway to empowerment for marginalized communities of color in the South and an important protection for Asian Americans and other immigrant families. We strongly encourage community members who might be eligible to naturalize to attend one of our free citizenship clinics before the end of the year." 

Before these announced changes take effect, Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, Advancing Justice | AAJC, and Advancing Justice – Atlanta urge lawful permanent residents who have been considering applying for naturalization begin the process immediately while the current rules, including the fee waiver and reduced fee, are still in place. 

Christine Chen, project director for Advancing Justice-LA,  responded: “As an organization that assists thousands of naturalization applicants, of whom over 60% are low income, we recognize that this proposal will deeply hurt low-income immigrants and vulnerable communities of color. The message from this administration about who they deem “worthy” of citizenship is loud and clear--that only those with means can apply. This change does not reflect our principles and values embedded in our history and our Constitution. This administration has repeatedly attacked immigrants and is committed to making it harder for low-income immigrants to access the nation’s lawful immigration system and become citizens. Advancing Justice - LA encourages community members who may be eligible to apply for naturalization to contact our office to receive free legal assistance as soon as possible. 

Asian Americans Advancing Justice affiliates in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. and our many partners involved in the New Americans Campaign, regularly hold citizenship workshops to provide low-cost, and in many cases free, legal assistance to guide eligible Americans through the naturalization application process. Information about upcoming workshops in the Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. metropolitan areas is available through Advancing Justice – LA’s multilingual helpline:

English: 888-349-9695

Mandarin/Cantonese: 800-520-2356

Korean: 800-867-3640

Tagalog: 855-300-2552

Thai: 800-914-9583

Download our fee waiver factsheet for more resources.