The Price Tag of US Citizenship

Becoming a US citizen unlocks full participation in American civic life. However, there are financial considerations. Fees, legal help, and other requirements can add up. Let’s break down the costs.

USCIS Application Fees

The biggest expense is the application itself, processed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This includes:

  • N-400 Application Fee: $640 is the base price. You may qualify for a reduced fee of $320 based on age and income.
  • Biometrics Fee: $85 covers fingerprinting and background checks.
  • Interview Fee: If required, expect to pay $700. Travel costs for your appointment might apply.

At minimum, filing your citizenship petition will cost $725. Including typical expenses, this often surpasses $1,000 in total USCIS charges.

Hiring an Immigration Attorney

The path to citizenship can be complex. Over 40% of applicants seek help from an immigration lawyer for eligibility and paperwork. Legal help costs vary:

  • Basic Assistance: $500+ for filing guidance
  • Standard Representation: Around $2,000 for help with forms and communication
  • Full Service: Up to $5,000+ for complete case management

Attorney fees depend on experience, location, and your situation. However, legal counsel offers valuable knowledge on US citizenship eligibility requirements.

Additional Costs

Here are some other things to budget for:

  • English and Civics Classes: Required if you need to improve language or civic knowledge. Typically $200-$500.
  • Document Fees: Obtaining passport photos, Green Card copies, or tax records. Usually $100-$300.
  • Travel: Transportation for biometrics appointments or interviews. Could be $100+ depending on distance.

The Bottom Line

Expect total costs for becoming a US citizen to range from around $1,500 on the low end to $10,000 if you need extensive legal help. Additional family members applying or hearings/appeals can add to the cost.

While acquiring citizenship requires financial investment, gaining full rights and protections can be invaluable for you and your family.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I get financial help with naturalization costs?

Yes, some non-profit organizations provide grants and loans to cover USCIS fees if applicants meet income thresholds and other criteria.

  • Does USCIS ever waive fees for citizenship applications?

In rare cases, USCIS provides fee waivers if someone documents extreme financial hardship or qualifying military service.

  • Is legal representation required to apply for naturalization?

No, working with an immigration attorney is optional. However, legal advice is recommended to avoid issues or denial.