Thu | Aug 13, 2020

Trump administration nearly doubles cost to apply for US citizenship

Published:Saturday | August 1, 2020 | 11:05 AM
A new US citizen holds a flag to his chest during the Pledge of Allegiance during a naturalisation ceremony at the New York Public Library, July 3, 2018, in New York City - Contributed photo

It will soon become almost twice as expensive to apply to become an American citizen.

The Trump administration is significantly increasing fees for a number of immigration and work authorisation applications, including the fee to apply for naturalisation.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services on Friday finalised its updated fee structure after a nine month review of proposed changes.

The agency upped the cost to apply online to become a citizen from $640 to $1,160, an 81% increase.

It will also impose a new $50 fee on asylum seekers. Only three other countries – Australia, Fiji and Iran – require asylum seekers, who are often fleeing from persecution and violence, to pay to apply for protections.

The agency also announced changes to the fees for dozens of other immigration and work applications.

The new fee structure will effect on October 2.

Unlike most other federal agencies, USCIS is funded primarily by fees attached to applications it processes.

The updated fee structure comes as the agency prepares to furlough some 13,000 workers as it faces a massive budget shortfall.

The agency has been particularly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

It has suspended many in-person services and the Trump administration has barred many immigrants and foreign workers from coming to the US during the pandemic, thus leading to a decrease in applications and fees.

The agency has estimated that applications and petitions will decline by more than 60% through the end of the fiscal year, causing a precipitous drop in revenue.

The agency said in the final document laying out the fees that it did not take the pandemic into account when making the changes.

Fees are reviewed by law every two years.

Source: US News and World Report 

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