Immigration officials said on Tuesday they will proceed with plans to double the cost of applying to become a US citizen and triple the fee for seeking legal permanent residency. The fee increases will take effect July 30.
Citizenship fees will rise from $330 (€244) to $595 (€440), plus $80 (€59) for required electronic fingerprints, an increase of $10 (€7.40). For legal permanent residency and fingerprints the cost will be $1,010 (€748) for those over 14. The cost now is $325 (€241).
Officials with Citizenship and Immigration Services, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, said the increases are needed to improve service, hire 1,500 workers, improve offices, equipment and systems to process applications.
"This agency is fee based, 99 per cent of our budget comes from user fees. We need to be the agency people expect us to be. We need to undertake reforms .... The only way to get from there to here is to have the financial resources to do that," CIS Director Emilio Gonzalez said Tuesday.
Many immigration groups and some Democratic members of Congress have protested the fee increases, saying they will put citizenship and legal immigration out of reach of many immigrants. They also question whether better service will follow.
The new fees were to be published this week in the Federal Register and also were posted on the CIS Web site.