TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The cost to become a U.S. citizen is nearly doubling. In just a few months the application fee will rise from $640 to $1,160 — an increase of 81 percent.
Dozens of immigration and work applications will also go up in cost. There will also be a $50 fee for asylum seekers.
"That will hinder numerous people from becoming U.S. citizens," said Jose Vazquez, an immigration attorney in Tucson. "It is significant especially during an election year and in the middle of a major recession."
Vazquez says the spike in cost will have great impacts, especially on low-income immigrants.
“Very much the salt-to-the-earth, hardworking people that have done things ‘the right way’ to become U.S citizens,” he said. “They will have this invisible wall in front of them now.”
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is largely self-funded through the money it makes from those who apply. The agency said the increases are needed to recover operational costs. Without an increase, the agency would become underfunded by about $1 billion per year.
"The funding issue, I think that's largely a self-inflicted wound because the agency itself has proposed numerous measures the last couple of years especially that inhibits them from collecting funds from their customers," Vazquez said.
He said measures such as application restrictions and penalties on immigrants are part of the budget shortfall.
The new fees take effect on Oct. 2. The fee for DACA recipients will remain the same.