NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 1, 2007

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service proposals to raise the application fee for citizenship from $330 to $595, and the fee for legal permanent residency from $325 to $905, could curb citizenship applications, says USA Today.

The proposed changes could affect many seeking legal status.  In 2005, 1.1 million people received legal permanent resident status. Of those:

  • About 650,000 are applications to unify with family members.
  • Some 220,000 were people working and seeking entry based on their professions, job skills, or because they had jobs considered a priority by the U.S. government; of those, 134,861 had jobs in management or similar positions.
  • Around 160,000 people had sales, service, farming or similar jobs.

Advocates for immigrants say the cost may price out the poor from becoming citizens. But the Citizenship and Immigration Service says it is necessary to help cover its costs, which is entirely funded by the fees it charges.

The proposed increases will add an estimated $1 billion a year to its annual budget of close to $2 billion, says Michael Aytes, associate director for operations.  He says higher fees will allow the agency to digitize applications and hopefully reduce waiting times for applicants by 20 percent by 2009.

"It's far more important that we charge a fee to cover the necessary cost of processing cases in the right way, in the right amount of time, than to lowball fees and have poorer services," says Aytes.

Source: William M. Welch, "Fee increase could curb citizenship applications," USA Today, March 1, 2007.

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