Becoming a citizen of the United States is something millions of people dream about. However, the process is not only long, but it is also costly. When applying for citizenship, there are certain fees one must pay. For those who cannot afford the fees, there are also waivers and fee reductions available. If you are thinking about applying for citizenship, it is important that you speak to a Chicago immigration attorney who can fully explain the process, the costs, and if you are eligible for any waivers or reductions.
The total cost for applying for U.S. citizenship is $725. The bulk of that cost is the $640 you must include with your citizenship application. The other $85 is a biometric fee that covers the cost of your fingerprints being taken, a requirement that applies to anyone applying for citizenship.
It is important to understand that you are required to pay these fees and that they are non-refundable. That means even if the government denies your application, they will not return your fees to you.
Although nearly everyone applying for United States citizenship must pay the above fees, some people are exempt from them. If you are 75 years old or older, you are exempt from the biometrics fee only. If you are applying for citizenship based on your military service, you are exempt from paying both the application fee and the biometrics fee.
All other applicants are required to pay both fees unless you are eligible for a waiver or fee reduction. These reductions and waivers are based on your income.
Those who cannot afford the application fee can apply for a reduction of their fees. To be considered eligible for a reduction of your household income cannot exceed the amounts listed in the Federal Poverty Guidelines. These guidelines take into consideration the number of people in your household and your income. The guidelines are the same for all 48 mainland states, with Hawaii and Alaska having their own separate guidelines.
There are two forms you must submit to have the fees reduced. These are the Request for Reduced Fee form and Form N-400. It is important to understand that you must submit the forms together. The USCIS will reject Form I-942 if Form N-400 has already been submitted. If the USCIS does reduce your fees, it is typically by 50%. You must still pay the fingerprinting fee of $85 unless you are over the age of 75.
In addition to fee reductions, you can also apply to have the fees waived completely. To do so, you must show that you cannot afford to pay the fees because of one of the following reasons:
You can apply for a waiver by submitting Form I-912 along with Form N-400. Again, it is important you submit these forms together, as USCIS will reject Form I-912 if you have already filed Form N-400. If USCIS approves your application for a waiver, you will not have to pay anything when applying for citizenship.
If you are thinking about applying to become a United States citizen, you do not need to do it on your own. Our Chicago immigration attorneys at Kriezelman, Burton & Associates, LLC can help with every step of your application, including informing you of any fee reductions or waivers for which you are eligible. Call us today or contact us online so we can begin reviewing your case.
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