The USCIS is a self-funded agency, meaning the operational costs of the agency are taken care of by itself. To sustain expenses like employee salary, software costs, and other free services that are offered, the agency charges a nominal fee for submitting the applications. Though it is claimed that the application fees discourages eligible immigrants from applying, the USCIS has a reason for charging the applicants. The USCIS is not funded by the US Government and is dependent on the fees for the operation of the agency.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) charges an application fees of $725 to file Form N-400 which is the Application for Naturalization. This fee includes the application fees for citizenship which is $640 and the biometric fee of $85, which is also called the background check fee.
As this cost cannot be paid in a single payment by many immigrants, the USCIS allows payment of $725 to be paid through credit card. This also ensures that people who are eligible for citizenship have better and easier access to the procedure for filing the application form for citizenship. When paying the application fees with a credit card, applicants are required to submit Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transaction. The application fees can also be paid with a money order, personal check or a cashier’s check.
There are exemptions to certain categories of applicants from paying the application fee. Applicants above the age of 75 need not pay the biometrics fee. Military applicants filing for Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, under Section 328 and 329 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) are exempted from paying the fees.
Fee waivers are also granted to the immigrants who cannot afford to pay the application fees. Not everyone is aware of this type of fee waiver. To request this waiver, Form I-912 (Request for Fee Waiver along with their US citizenship applications) should be filed. Written requests explaining the reason for fee waiver can also be submitted by the applicants.
Fee waivers are offered to applicants who receive public benefits like TANF, SSI, LINK or Medicaid and families whose income is less than the federal poverty level.