The Citizenship Fee Increase and its Implications

Communications Manager

December 23, 2016

The citizenship fee increase that takes effect today has implications for employers who support their eligible employees’ pursuit of citizenship.

The cost to apply for citizenship will increase from $680 to $725, not including the cost of legal representation, as part of an agency-wide average fee increase of 21 percent at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

That will affect partners of New American Workforce, which works with businesses to assist their eligible immigrant employees with the citizenship process so they become more valuable workers and more deeply rooted in the community and economy.

The City of Miami Beach is a good example. It was one of the first municipalities to partner as an employer, offering citizenship services as a benefit to their employees.

Since 2014, the city has hosted citizenship workshops for nearly 100 employees, almost half of whom have become U.S. citizens or are in the process of becoming one.

The city not only has offered these services through New American Workforce, but also was the first employer to offer 100 percent financial support for the application process.

“I am proud our city has been able to help dozens of citizenship-eligible employees with the USCIS application process so that they can become full participants in our workplace and community,” said Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy L. Morales. “However, it is unfortunate that USCIS is increasing the citizenship application fee by $45 — making the process more difficult, especially if you consider a working family of four applying.”

For the City of Miami Beach, the increase means that their assistance may not spread as far as it did in past years, and fewer employees may benefit.

And that would affect individuals like Barbara Kordos. Barbara has worked for the City of Miami Beach as a school crossing guard for four years. She came to the United States from Poland in 1953 when she was just 3 years old and has lived in Miami ever since. She raised a family there and always dreamed of becoming a U.S. citizen. But Barbara always thought the process was more expensive than she could afford.

With the help of her employer, in partnership with New American Workforce, Barbara applied for citizenship in 2016. She became a proud U.S. citizen last March at an oath ceremony hosted at City Hall in Miami Beach for employee participants.

In her words: “I have recommended [the program] to other people, and every time I get a flyer I pass it on to my family and friends. Because of this program most of them are citizens now.”

Even though the fee increase poses a challenge, such devotion to American citizenship is priceless.