WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) joined her colleagues in the Senate and the House of Representatives in co-sponsoring the Citizenship Affordability Act. This bicameral piece of legislation would ensure that legal residents who are eligible for naturalization, but unable to afford the cost, can access waivers to reduce or eliminate fees associated with the process.
“The inability to pay a costly fee should not be the deciding factor in whether a person can become an American citizen,” said Senator Rosen. “These cost barriers make it all the more difficult for individuals to work within the immigration process and fully participate in our country. I will continue working on legislation that creates a more just, efficient, and secure immigration system.”
BACKGROUND: Currently, individuals eligible for naturalization are required to pay the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) an application fee of $640 plus a $85 biometric fee for a total of $725 per applicant, in addition to potential legal fees, English classes, and other costs.
Fee waivers are available, but only to applicants who earn less than 150% of the Federal Poverty Level, with a reduced fee for those earning less than 200%. Recently, USCIS proposed changing the eligibility requirements for and limiting access to fee waivers, even though many residents who already are not eligible for the waiver cannot afford the fees associated with naturalization.
This legislation would make permanent full and partial income-based fee waivers for naturalization, as well as ensure fee waivers for those filing to preserve residence for naturalization purposes, applying for citizenship, or seeking other services at USCIS. The legislation also requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to consider the receipt of means-tested benefits as evidence of eligibility for the fee waivers.