Why would permanent residents want to become citizens? As many benefits as a lawful residence in the US already provides, those of American citizens are still significantly more than those of lawful permanent residents. United States citizens have the right to vote to begin with. Deportation is also taken out of the equation. These are just two of the many privileges that citizens of the United States enjoy.
If you’re a lawful permanent resident and you want to elevate your status from green card holder to American citizen, you have to apply for naturalization. Naturally, there’s an application fee.
The terms citizenship and naturalization bear distinction, but both amount to the applicant becoming a US citizen. The official fees required in applying for US citizenship or naturalization involve the filing fee and the biometrics fee. You may, however, incur more expenses in your citizenship application.
Fees for Naturalization Application
You have to expect to pay this minimum in order to apply to become a US citizen, but it serves you well to also prepare for more expenses.
- Filing Fee – The standard United States citizenship application form is the N-400. Filing it costs an immigrant several hundred dollars, $640 in 2109.
- Biometrics Fee – The current fee for the biometrics appointment is close to $100.
There are, however, exceptions that you may qualify for.
- US military service members or veterans – The usual filing and biometrics fees do not apply to them. They can apply for citizenship status under special rules.
- 75 years old and above – Even if they still need to go through the biometrics process, they don’t need to pay for it.
Fee Waiver or Reduction
Exigent financial circumstances may render you unable to pay the fees for an American citizenship application. If this is the case, you can ask for a fee waiver. The waiver is usually granted if:
- You receive a means-tested government benefit.
- Your household income is 150 percent or lower of the federal poverty guidelines.
- You’re going through extreme financial hardship.
To be eligible for a reduced fee, usually about half of the regular fee, you have to prove that your household income is 200 percent or lower than the federal poverty guidelines for the size of your household.
Other Possible Expenses
In addition to the standard application fees to become a United States citizen, the following may also cost you:
- Documents – You may have to pay to obtain certain documents necessary for your application for naturalization, e.g. certified copy of criminal records or copies of past tax returns. If your documents are in a foreign language, you also need to pay to have your documents translated to English. If you are filing your Form N-400 from outside the United States, you are required to submit two passport-style photographs, which also costs.
- Travel – If you don’t live near a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office, you have to factor in travel expenses in order to get to your biometrics appointment and naturalization interview. If you live far away from the venues the biometrics appointment or the citizenship interview, you may miss a full workday, take an overnight trip, or stay at a hotel.
- Lawyer – If your application involves a more complex situation, the services of an immigration attorney may be called for. Lawyers specializing in immigration law provide both advice and representation.
Applying for Citizenship? Consult a North Carolina Immigration Lawyer Today!
Becoming a citizen of the United States is a dream for many a foreign national. Whether you’re a legal resident or a foreigner still dreaming of coming to the US, it’s good to learn about the citizenship process if your goal is to be a naturalized citizen.
If you want to go through the naturalization process to become a citizen of the United States, it’s best to get legal advice and guidance on the correct steps to take. There are many questions you might consider, such as whether you should completely renounce your original nationality or opt for dual citizenship. All these can be addressed by a lawyer with a vast knowledge of immigration laws.
Applying for naturalization takes time, effort, and money. Make sure that you embark on that journey correctly. For all legal issues involving immigration and naturalization, call us at Diener Law to speak with an experienced North Carolina immigration attorney.