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Seeking citizenship in America has just gotten $500 more expensive thanks to the Trump administration.
CNN reported on Friday that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has updated its fee structure after close to nine months of review. Now, the cost of online naturalization applications will jump from $640 to $1,160. This fee will cover the full cost to process the application and a proportional share of overall overhead costs which is a change from the previous policy.
Along with raising the naturalization fee, America will also force those seeking asylum to pay $50. Historically, the United States did not require people looking for asylum to pay a fee. But America now joins Australia, Fiji, and Iran as countries imposing fees on political refugees.
These adjusted fees will go into effect on Oct. 2. They come as a response to the agency facing budget shortages and pending furloughs. The pandemic has forced the USCIS closed offices, halt services, and request for $1.2 billion in emergency funds from Congress. Yet per a USCIS spokesperson, these fees are not related to the current budget crisis. The agency was reportedly losing $4.1 million per business day before the pandemic, forcing these fees to hit the table for consideration nearly two years ago.
"These overdue adjustments in fees are necessary to efficiently and fairly administer our nation's lawful immigration system, secure the homeland and protect Americans," USCIS deputy director for policy, Joseph Edlow, said in a statement per CNN.
The new fees also follow the Trump administration's reveal that it would not accept new applicants for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects certain undocumented immigrants from deportation. Although the USCIS did not go forward with a proposed $275 renewal fee for DACA recipients, the administration said it would adjust renewals to one year instead of two while it reviews the program.