On July 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a final rule that will adjust fees for specific immigration and naturalization benefit requests to “ensure U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services [USCIS] recovers its costs of services.” Unlike most government agencies, USCIS is fee funded and the announcement comes amid concerns about potential furloughs at USCIS due to a budgetary shortfall.
While filing fees for most applications will be increasing, the most notable increase is for naturalization (citizenship) applications. The current USCIS filing fee for filing an N-400 Application for Naturalization is $640 (plus $85 for biometrics). As of October 2, 2020, the USCIS filing fee will be increasing to $1,170 for paper filings (on-line filings are $10 less) – an increase of 83% !
If you have had your green card for at least five years, you may be eligible to naturalize if you have physically resided in the U.S. for at least half (2.5 years) of the preceding 5 years. Any trips outside of the U.S. for more than 6 consecutive months may break the continuous residency requirement unless you can prove that you were domiciled in the U.S. Any trips outside the U.S. for more than 12 consecutive months will definitely break the requirement.
If you obtained your green card through marriage, you may be eligible to naturalize after you’ve been married for 3 years and have had your green card for 3 years. You must also meet the continuous residency requirement – in this case, 1.5 years in the preceding 3 years. If it has been fewer than 5 years since you got your green card and you are naturalizing based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, you will also have to provide proof that you are still married.
To qualify for naturalization, you should not have a criminal record that would make you inadmissible, and have paid your taxes every year.
To see if you qualify for naturalization, contact the immigration attorneys at Lubiner Schmidt & Palumbo, LLC at (908) 709-0500, or firstname.lastname@example.org.