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Becoming a US citizen is more profitable than renewing a green card: how much does it cost

One of the common reasons permanent residents don't apply for US citizenship is cost. Now the filing of Form N-400 "Application for Naturalization" will cost $ 725. That's a lot of money, but it's cheaper than being a permanent resident. And the cost of citizenship will be higher in the future as the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will raise fees, writes CitizenPath.

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There are approximately 13,6 million immigrants in the United States who are legal permanent residents, also known as green card holders. According to the US Department of Homeland Security, about 9,1 million of these permanent residents are eligible to naturalize (become US citizens). However, many have found themselves trapped in an expensive green card renewal cycle.

The best way to break out of this cycle is to obtain citizenship. Once naturalized as a US citizen, you no longer need to pay USCIS fees or fill out forms. This can save you and your family thousands of dollars over a lifetime.

Here are some ways to reduce the cost of obtaining US citizenship.

1. The cost of citizenship is much less than the cost of a green card

Becoming a US citizen is cheaper than remaining a green card holder when looking at the long-term costs. How many? This will probably surprise you.

Did you know that the average 30-year-old permanent resident will pay $ 5313 over the course of his life to renew his green card? It must be renewed every 10 years. The current USCIS fee for replacing or renewing a green card is $ 540. And if it is lost, stolen or damaged, it will cost another $ 540 to replace it. USCIS fees for green card renewals also continue to rise - in the last 10 years alone, they have increased significantly.

But there is a one-time USCIS fee for naturalization application. Lifetime US citizenship is much cheaper. After all, you will never have to pay another USCIS fee again!

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2. You can pay the cost of citizenship by credit card

If you do not have the full registration fee, simply submit Form G-1450 Credit Card Authorization along with Form N-400 Application for Naturalization. If you choose to pay by credit or debit card, you must pay the entire commission with one card.

You can use Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover to pay the USCIS fee. You can also use gift cards with Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover logos.

3. Low-income families can apply for a waiver

Since some applicants cannot afford to pay the fees for applying for citizenship, USCIS has established a waiver process that will be approved if you clearly demonstrate that you cannot pay the amount. Even if your financial difficulties are temporary, for example, as a result of being laid off due to COVID, you can qualify for this benefit.

USCIS may authorize a waiver of payment of the Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization) fee if you provide documentation showing that you meet one of the following criteria:

  • You, your spouse, or the head of household living with you is currently receiving means-tested benefits. Examples include Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps or Food Stamp Benefits), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • Your household income does not exceed 150% of the federal poverty level at the time of application. Check out the current Federal guidelines on poverty this year. For example, a family of four cannot have a household income of more than $ 39 to qualify for a waiver (in the 300 contiguous states).
  • You are experiencing financial difficulties that prevent you from paying the fee, including unexpected medical bills or emergencies.

To request a Fee Waiver, you can file Form I-912, Request to Waiver Fee, along with Form N-400. Be sure to include proof that you meet the criteria. Additional instructions and examples of evidence can be found on the page USCIS Fee Waiver.

You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read it all on ForumDaily New York

Discounted Citizenship

You can ask for a reduced fee for filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, if your household's documented annual income exceeds 150% but does not exceed 200% of the federal poverty level at the time of application.

If you are eligible for a reduced fee, complete Form I-942, Request for a Reduced Fee. When filling out Form N-400, you must provide a reduced fee ($ 320) and biometrics fee ($ 85) along with I-942.

In addition, to reduce the cost of the entire citizenship process, people with obvious cases (such as no immigration violations or arrests) can file Form N-400 without a lawyer. But it should be understood that the process of applying for citizenship in this case can be difficult.

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