The price of immigration

The price of naturalization in the United States is $680, says TIME magazine.  Naturalization is the process that is followed by immigrants once they have been issued with a green card so that they gain US citizenship, and a number of the country’s politicians, including the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, are unhappy with the high cost.

In order to assist with the offsetting of these costs, millions of the country’s 8.5 million immigrants who have chosen naturalization are being helped by a number of organizations.  TIME says that $595 of the cost of becoming a US citizen is just for the application fee, with the remaining $85 covering background and fingerprint checks.  Organizations and politicians are also annoyed by the fact that immigrants have to pay up even if their application is denied.

TIME says that 65,000 immigrants chose naturalization in April after their applications were approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), but around 8,000 of those had to pay the cost even after being refused a green card.

USCIS is a fee-based agency, unlike other government organizations that get their budget via funds from taxpayers.  Fees cover 90% of the operating costs of the agency, according to TIME, including employee salaries but many politicians say that legal immigrants are discouraged by the high fees despite wanting to become citizens.  A 2012 Pew survey cited financial and administrative barriers as being the third major reason why Latino permanent residents had not yet put in a naturalization application.