A coalition of immigration-advocacy groups is calling on Congress to invest more in U.S. citizenship services, a movement that comes after a study commissioned by the National Partnership for New Americans found that the $680 naturalization fee has become a significant barrier to citizenship for legal permanent residents.
More than 90 percent of LPRs want to naturalize, but a quarter of them cite cost as the main reason why they haven't applied, the report's lead author Manuel Pastor said in a conference call. The study also found that the price difference between renewing a green card and applying for citizenship was significant enough to dissuade legal immigrants from seeking naturalization.
"If price matters, we might want to think about the balance between all of the benefits we can get between nurturing naturalization and encouraging citizenship," Pastor said. In addition to the application fee, hidden costs attributed to learning English and studying American civics--two requirements to passing the citizenship test--build on the burden felt by immigrants who want to naturalize, Pastor added.
The "Becoming American" campaign, led by the Partnership and the National Immigration Forum, is asking U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to reevaluate its fee structures and also encouraging Congress to invest more in the U.S. citizenship process.