Being an American citizen is fairly easy. That is if we’re only talking about the naturalization process itself. What makes it tedious, though, is the path towards the said phase.
For instance, obtaining a green card should come first before you can proceed with the citizenship application. Acquiring the said permanent residence status requires lots of money, patience, and follow-ups. Some applicants will have to wait for the document for years!
That said, exactly how much does it cost to become a US citizen? We’ll give you the fees available online so you can form estimates.
US Citizenship Application Cost
The price to become an American citizen is hard to quantify as the costs will vary depending on your case. We can get started, though, by listing down government fees first.
For the citizenship application, the cost totals to $725 as of 2017. The price includes:
- Application fee: $640
- Biometric fee: $85
The cost does not include all the paper works and legal expenses prior to the application process.
You might also be required to pay other fees charged by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Refer to this post for a list of prices.
Mode Of Payment
Applicants might not be able to afford the application fee in one payment. Fortunately, the USCIS allows credit cards for the settlement of fees. That said, you should also submit a G-1450 form (Authorization for Credit Card Transaction).
If you are able to pay the full amount, you can do so with a money order, personal check, or a cashier’s check.
Overall Price To Become An American Citizen
How much does it cost to become a US citizen if we include the so-called “tedious” process of acquiring a green card? The price will be dependent on a number of factors:
- Before you can apply for a citizenship, you need to first apply for a permanent residency. The probability of your acquiring a green card will be higher if you hire an immigration lawyer.
- The services of an immigration lawyer will cost anywhere from $5,000 to $7,500. There are also cases when the price can reach up to $15,000 according to an article by ABC News.
- Flaws in your record, such as a criminal or negative immigration history, will make the processing more complex. You will be needing additional documents, more time from your lawyer, and more forms to clear your background. Of course, that will cost money.
- Once you get your permanent residency and has spent the minimum years required for eligibility, you will have to mail your application form to the USCIS.
You have to consider the above factors before you can come up with a decent estimate of the price to become an American citizen. You can also use this online calculator to aid you with your computation.
What To Expect?
If you’re already eligible to apply for an American citizenship, you will undergo the following steps:
- You will need to mail your N-400 form to USCIS. Make sure to attach a copy of your green card.
- If your application is accepted, the USCIS will send you a schedule for fingerprinting and biometrics.
- You will undergo a background check which will be performed by the FBI.
- A USIC officer will interview you and test your knowledge of the English language and US history.
- Finally, you will have to swear your loyalty to the United States. You will also receive your certificate of naturalization during the ceremony.
Reduced And Waived Fees
A small percentage of US immigrants may acquire an American citizenship for a lesser price through applying for a reduced fee request. If approved, you will only need to pay:
- $320 for the N-400 application
- $85 for the biometrics
The USCIS requires you to prove that your household income is greater than 150 percent but not more than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG). Only then will you have a higher chance of having your request granted by the department.
Some applicants have the privilege to be an American citizen without paying a penny. Those who may be eligible to waive fees include:
- Applicants whose household income is at or below the 150% poverty level
- Applicants experiencing financial difficulties (such as unexpected medical bills or emergencies)
- Applicants who are receiving public benefits such as TANF, SSI, LINK, and Medicaid
Of course, you need to file a request for a fee waiver and submit it to the USCIS. The department will base their decision on your merits.
Other applicants who can enjoy reduced or no fees at all include:
- Those who are 75 years old and older (no biometrics fee required)
- Members of the military (no fees required)
Make sure to provide related documents to USCIS to support your application.
Requirements For American Citizenship
How much does it cost to become a US citizen is not the only question you should know the answer about. More importantly, you have to know what requirements will make you eligible for an application.
As an applicant, you must be:
- A permanent resident for five years
- At least 18 years old
- Residing within the state for at least three months prior to the filing of application
- Continuously residing in the US as a permanent resident for 5 years prior to the filing of application
- Physically present in the US for at least 30 months out of the 5 years prior to the filing of application
- A passer of the English and US history and government test
- A person with a good moral character
If you qualify for all these requirements, you can easily submit a citizenship application yourself. You will only be needing an immigration lawyer if you still need to secure a green card.
The application cost might be hefty. But the benefits once you’re an American citizen will surely be worth more the expenses. After all, you’ll be enjoying all the privileges from voting to avoiding deportation. Good luck on applying!