The process of becoming a United States (U.S.) citizen is called naturalization. This naturalization comes with a financial obligation. Applicants seeking U.S. citizenship have to pay a naturalization fee. The fees offset the cost of processing applications and the accompanying biometric services.

 

History of naturalization fees

 

In 1999, applicants paid $95 in naturalization fees. The fees increased by 137% to $225 during the Clinton Administration. By 2007, the fee was $597.

This upward trend lowered the naturalization uptake by applicants. They felt that the fees were quite prohibitive and could not access loans to pay the fees. As a result, 8.5 million people who were eligible for citizenship chose not to go through the naturalization process.

By 2019, the fee was $725. Under the Trump Administration, the USCIS increased the naturalization fee to $1,160 for online applications and $1,170 for paper applications.

The Government defended this change to application processing costs and fraud protection. The higher fee will also raise the USCIS’s annual revenue and reduce the taxpayer burden.

How much are naturalization fees?

Before October 2020, naturalization fees were $725. These included a $640 charge for application processing and $85 for biometrics services.

Changes in naturalization fees:

  • $1,160 for an online application
  • $1,170 for a paper application

The full fee is non-refundable. It means that you will not receive a refund if your application is unsuccessful.

Can I get a waiver?

Before October 2, 2020, low-income household earners, the elderly, and those in military services could apply for an exemption or full waiver.

  • Applicants over 75 years of age were exempted from biometric service fees.
  • Military service personnel were exempt from the application fee and biometric service fees.
  • Applicants from low-income households could apply for a fee of $405.

Current status:

  1. No more fee waivers for low-income immigrants.
  2. Asylum seekers will pay $50 if they are not pursuing a deportation process.
  3. Military service personnel are exempt from the application and biometric fees.

When do I pay the fees?

  1. Once you file Form N-400, attach a copy of your identity (such as a green card) and passport photos. Pay the filing fee when submitting the form. Wait for a review.
  2. Once reviewed, await the call for a biometrics appointment.
  3. Attend the interview appointment and pass the necessary tests.
  4. Once you pass the test, you’ll attend a swearing-in ceremony. You will get a certificate of naturalization at the ceremony.

How can I pay the naturalization fee?

You can pay via:

  • Money order
  • Personal check
  • Credit card
  • Cashier’s check

What to note when making payment

  1. Consistency in payment methods is key. Use the same method for paying all the fees (filing fee and biometric services). If you are making an application for your family members, use the same payment method for all of their applications.
  2. Accuracy is vital. Pay the exact amount that is stipulated on the N-400 form. The USCIS can reject your application for incorrect or insufficient payment.
  3. Pay according to how you file the N-400 form. If you file by mail, then pay via check or money order. If you file online, then choose an online payment method.