How much does it cost to become a US Citizen in 2020
For immigrants living in the United States, 2020 did not only change the way they live and work due to the coronavirus pandemic, it also changed their sense of safety and status in the country.
Immigration policies threatened the permanency of many immigrants in the U.S. Such as DACA recipients and immigrant students residing in the country, and also made it more difficult for people to access many immigration benefits, as most fees increased by an average of 20%.
So, if you’re wondering how much does it cost to become a U.S. citizen in 2020, we’ll start by letting you know that it could be a significantly higher cost than in recent years.
How much does it cost to become a U.S Citizen in 2020?
On August 3 of 2020, the DHS issued a final rule that makes broad changes to the USCIS fee schedule. It removes most fee exceptions, changes processing time limits, and increases the cost of most application fees.
The rule was supposed to come into effect on October 2 but the Federal Court temporarily halted the fee hike. The rule increased the cost of Form N- 400 (application for naturalization) fees by 81%, as well as other immigration benefits, which we’ll show below.
Why did fees increase so much this year?
U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services needs to constantly examine and adjust immigration fees to cover the cost of processing applications, so it reviews the cost of its operations every two years and makes the corresponding changes.
This institution depends almost entirely on fees and is facing a significant budget shortfall this year, which is why it has asked Congress for $1.2 billion to cover the gap.
In addition to that, the rising efforts of the Trump administration to detect fraud and increase the vetting of immigrants have caught up with the cost of USCIS operations, so according to Joseph Eldow, USCIS deputy director of policies, the adjustments are necessary to administer the USA immigration system and protect Americans.
How the cost of getting naturalized has changed in recent years
Such notorious changes in the cost of becoming a U.S Citizen have been more common during recent years. The last adjustment in fees was in December of 2016, under the Obama administration, and there was also an overall increase of 21%.
During previous administrations, the government had tried to keep naturalization costs low in order to motivate immigrants to apply for citizenship
The belief that the fabric of the American way of life was strengthened by immigrants, was what kept naturalization fees accessible and made it easier for anyone who qualifies for it, to become a citizen, so for the most of this decade, fees haven’t changed dramatically.
The last time there was such a high increase in the naturalization application fees was in 1999, under the Clinton administration, when applications increased from $95 to $225 (a 137% increase).
Is it advisable to apply for citizenship now?
After reading about the hurdles that are now in the way of becoming an American citizen, you’re probably wondering if this is a good moment to start your citizenship application.
Truth is, fees may have increased, but eligibility requirements and the process is still the same. Most likely, naturalization application fees will not go down anytime soon, so you might as well go for it right away.
Make sure your application is correct
However, you should make every effort to make sure that your application for U.S. Citizenship is correct and you meet all the requirements. So perhaps getting expert legal advice is the best way to guarantee a successful application.
Keep in mind that any mistake in Form N-400 (application for naturalization) or missing documents means that USCIS will keep and not return your money, and you will have to start your process all over again.
Getting information on All you need to know about form N–400.will be useful for you too.
Assessing yourself with an immigration lawyer may be quite expensive, but getting legal advice doesn’t always have to be so costly, there are online services for those who need help with their form, but can’t access the services of traditional legal representation.
These, only cost a fraction of what an immigration attorney charges and help you complete your process through a very intuitive platform. If you are not sure of what to look for or how this works, we’ll explain here:
How to choose an online filing platform
Before giving out your information or paying any online service, these are some of the key aspects you should look for in the software you choose:
Make sure your information is protected
First of all, look for disclaimers or privacy policies that specify how your information is going to be processed, in order to help you complete your forms, experts will need personal information. So make sure you are uploading your data to a secure platform.
Look for support from legitimate immigration attorneys
Not all of the self-service filing tools were created by, or include the support of immigration lawyers. Try to look for options in which you can interact with an expert and solve any doubts you may have.
Make sure you get an eligibility check
We understand you are trying to protect your money, so it’s best if you get an eligibility check before you pay anything. Look for a platform that lets you register and run a screening before you put your card in.
This will also help you decide if you can go for a do-it-yourself service or you should hire an immigration attorney.
How it works
Most reliable form-filing tools start the same way, with an initial diagnosis to prove you can follow the process with them. After that, you pay for the service and answer other simple questions, which will then be translated directly into the form.
You will also get a list of supporting documents based on your case and you will be able to scan them and upload them to the platform.
After that, you’ll be able to schedule a videoconference with an immigration attorney who will check your documents and forms and will solve any lingering questions you may have.
If everything is correct, the company will put together your package and mail your documents to USCIS after you pay the corresponding fee.
At Together Direct we are still committed to making citizenship available to anyone who qualifies for it, so if you are interested in following this process, you can sign up and complete your application for naturalization in the most reliable way.