How Much Does It Cost to Be a U.S. Citizen?

One of the stumbling blocks many immigrants face when applying to become a United States citizen is the filing fees associated with it. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires immigrants and sponsors to pay these fees to process applications. 

How much does it cost to go through the citizenship application process? Once you’re a citizen, you’ll never pay an immigration fee again. But until that day arrives, you’ll have to face fees. Here are some common scenarios you’ll find and what the current rates are for 2021.

bundle of hundreds deposited into american flag reserve
A bundle of hundreds deposited into an American flag reserve. No matter how much it costs to be a U.S. citizen, investing in your future as an American is a smart decision.

Filing Fee for Form N-400

Form N-400 is the application for naturalization, the final step to go from a green card holder to a naturalized citizen. The current fee is $725 to file, but $85 of that is a biometrics fee. If you are younger than 75 years of age, you need to pay the biometrics fee. Naturally, you will need to have a green card to file Form N-400.

How Can I Reduce the Fee for Form N-400?

There are two ways you can reduce the cost to become a U.S. citizen. The first is to file Form I-942, Request for Reduced Fee. If you can document your annual household income and prove it’s greater than 150% and not more than 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, you’ll pay $320 plus the $85 biometrics fee. If your income is less than 150% of Federal Poverty Guidelines you can qualify for a complete waiver of the fee by filing Form I-912.

If you have served in the military, you may be able to get the fee for the form waived entirely. You would only have to pay the biometrics fee of $85 to file your form. You may need to file Form N-426 to get the certification of your military or naval service. This is free.

Could I Just Stay a Permanent Resident?

There are only two options if you want to live and work in the U.S. permanently: citizenship and permanent residency. Permanent residents have to pay $455 every ten years to renew their green cards. Over the course of a lifetime, that’s nearly $3,000 and potentially much more. Immigration fees will likely keep increasing.

U.S. Citizenship Removes Deportation Risks

As a permanent resident, there is always a risk that you could be deported. Becoming a U.S. citizen protects you and your family from deportation. You never know when the laws might change and make it harder to live as a permanent resident.

The U.S. government can and does deport permanent residents. Even what some would consider minor crimes, such as marijuana possession, could result in a seat at immigration court. The same goes for minors. 

Save Money for Your Children by Becoming a U.S. Citizen

The good news is if you become a U.S. citizen through naturalization, your minor children automatically become citizens too. That not only gives you and the full protection under the law but also saves them hundreds or even thousands in costs to become a U.S. citizen.

Citizenship gives you more opportunities for quality education and provides access to much more affordable tuition rates. More education leads to more job opportunities, which means making more money for you and your family.

Can I Pay to Bring In My Other Family After I’m a U.S. Citizen?

Your relatives will need to go through the same process you went through, but you can make it easier for them after you’re a citizen. If you file Form I-130 on their behalf, you can prove that you are a relative. The cost is $535.

It is likely that your relatives will need you to file this form on their behalf before they can apply to become a permanent resident. In essence, you become their sponsor when you file this form on their behalf.

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