Immigration Advocates Prepare For Changes Around Citizenship Applications

Dec 10, 2019

Immigration advocates in New Hampshire are preparing for it to become more expensive to apply for citizenship and legal residence.

It currently costs $640 to apply for citizenship. But a proposed rule by the federal government would bump that application fee to $1,170 starting in 2020. Other fees are set to rise as well, though some will go down. [Go to Table 19 on this PDF to see the proposed fee changes, or view them in the slideshow above.]

Bruno Soares is an immigration advocate in Nashua. He says the changes could put citizenship out of reach for some legal residents.

“They are concerned they're not going to be able to naturalize for example, because of the amount of fees they're going to have to pay on top of legal fees, attorney’s fees,” he said.

Soares said he recently saw two clients who want to start the citizenship process.

"I advised them on the increase of fees, and of course they wanted to start the process right away,” he said. “They were shocked [at the increase].”

Soares said after the 2016 election, he saw more permanent residents apply for citizenship.

“They wanted to move forward with their citizenship because they were afraid,” he said.

Another change went into effect last Monday that some advocates say could make getting fee waivers to apply for citizenship more difficult. 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will now require a tax transcript from the IRS to apply for the fee waiver.

According to Project Citizenship, a Boston based non-profit, nearly 40 percent of all naturalization applications have included a fee waiver.

The public can comment on the proposed rule change to increase application fees until Monday, Dec. 16.