On November 9th, the Trump Administration proposed a new administrative rule that, if enacted, would dramatically increase government filing fees for several immigration forms/cases. Under this rule, citizenship (“naturalization”) filing fees would increase 61%, from the current fee of $725 to the proposed fee of $1,170. This new rule would also eliminate fee waivers for low-income applicants.

This proposed rule was in the public comment period until December 16, 2019. The earliest the rule could potentially go into effect is after the public comment period is complete. In the meantime, the current fees and rules apply.

Immigrants applying for citizenship through the naturalization process are currently facing growing backlogs, and processing times for naturalization applications can vary widely depending on where the applicant lives. Current processing times for the USCIS Chicago Field Office are about one year, but other Field Offices are taking up to two years.

We expect that the backlogs will only continue to grow in response to this proposed rule, even if it does not go through exactly as proposed. The threat of this huge increase in fees, will likely result in an increase in applications.

Additionally, we’ve seen an uptick in applications in advance of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. The right to vote is among the most important rights given exclusively to U.S. citizens. Legal permanent residents (green card holders) who are interested in voting in the 2020 election will need to first determine whether they are eligible for citizenship.

The requirements for citizenship may look easy to meet on first reading, but we would highly recommend that you consult with a qualified immigration attorney or legal aid organization to determine whether you are a good candidate for citizenship. A proper screening and competent legal representation is key to ensuring you don’t inadvertently end up in hot water with the federal government. If you are eligible for citizenship and want to apply, now would be the time to put this at the top of your “to do” list.

If you are considering applying for citizenship, please reach out to us through our contact form or email us directly at info@mcenteelaw.com so a member of our team can assess your eligibility for citizenship.

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