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Coalition Responds to USCIS Announcement on Partial Citizenship Fee Waiver

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyage,  Main Phone: 212-627-2227 ext 235,  E-mail: tyaku@nyic.org
New York  (Thursday, May 5, 2016)

Coalition Responds to USCIS Announcement on Partial Citizenship Fee Waiver

 (New York, NY)  Citizenship should not be a privilege limited to the only the wealthy and the highly educated. Currently, 8.8 million people are eligible to become citizens, including almost 1 million New Yorkers. The New York Immigration Coalition has worked at the forefront of the push to lower the barriers to American citizenship for years, working alongside NPNA and other member organizations. This morning, our country took a big step forward to include the working poor in our American dream.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a proposed rule change to their fee schedule, a restructuring of the fees the agency charges for immigration forms and services. The changes include an overall increase in the naturalization fee from $595 to $640, not including biometrics--and a partial fee waiver for those individuals eligible for naturalization and living between 150-200 percent of povertyFor families of four, the new partial fee waiver will apply to those earning between $36,450-48,600.

The fee changes will be open to public comment this summer, and the changes are set to be implemented in the beginning of Fiscal Year 2017. The proposed changes increases application fees across the board, including increased fees for Family Petition applications (27 percent), for a green card (16 percent), for permission to travel (60 percent), and for work permits (8 percent). The New York Immigration Coalition plans to submit a comment and participate in the process to inform our communities of the changes.

This new partial fee waiver, which the NYIC and NPNA have been pushing for years, is an important step for millions of immigrants  who qualify for citizenship but are unable to apply because of the high fees,” said Steven Choi, NPNA board member and executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “The partial fee waiver will expand the reach of our Empower Immigrant New Yorkers campaign to thousands more of individuals, bringing new strength and stability to low income communities. At the same time, we remain concerned by the rising costs of applications over time, and call on the Administration to consider strategies to lower hurdles to naturalization so that even more individuals are not barred from the American Dream.

"Citizenship should be attainable for those who are eligible because we want immigrants to become citizens and the fee waiver policy will help," said Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez. "Citizenship says to America that you are all-in; that you are fully vested and a full partner; that you are willing to shoulder the responsibilities and enjoy the privileges of citizenship. Whether you can be a U.S. citizen should never be a matter of whether you are wealthy or not." 

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The New York Immigration Coalition is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees.The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fostering their leadership, and providing a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.

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