Filing and Biometric Fees When Applying for US Citizenship
Pursuing citizenship in the U.S. involves several different types of costs, not all of which may be immediately obvious. In addition to the fee for filing your application and the fee for your biometrics, you may need to pay to get certain documents for your application. If you do not live near a USCIS office, you might incur travel costs when you are going to your biometrics appointment and your naturalization interview. If your situation is complex, and you feel that you may benefit from the assistance of an immigration attorney, their services may cost you a few hundred dollars or a few thousand dollars. (You should make sure that any attorney whom you retain is experienced in immigration law and can represent you before USCIS if needed.)
Filing Fees for the Application
Filing Form N-400, which is the standard application for citizenship, will cost you several hundred dollars. In 2019, it costs $640. In addition to this amount, you will need to pay close to $100 for your biometrics appointment. These fees do not apply to everyone, though. If you are a member of the U.S. military or a veteran, you may be able to apply for citizenship under special rules. You do not need to pay any fee for filing the application or for biometrics. (Read more here about citizenship for military service members and veterans.) If you are 75 or older, you do not need to pay a fee for biometrics, even though you still will need to go through the biometrics process.
If you are simply unable to pay the fee due to exigent financial circumstances, you can request a fee waiver in certain situations. In general, you can get a fee waiver if you are receiving a means-tested benefit from the government, your household income does not exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, or you are facing some other type of extreme financial hardship. Read more here about filing the fee waiver application and the drawbacks of requesting a fee waiver.
Even if you are not eligible for a fee waiver, you might be eligible to pay a reduced fee. You would need to show that your household income is no more than 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines for your household size. The reduced fee would amount to about half of the standard fee.
Documents and Travel Costs
Some foreign nationals do not need to pay to get the documents that will supplement their application. Others will need to pay for a translation service if they need to submit materials that are in a foreign language, or if they need to get a certified copy of their criminal records from a court. You may need to pay a fee to get copies of tax returns from a long time ago. Foreign nationals who are filing their Form N-400 from outside the U.S. must submit two passport-style photographs, which involves a fee.
You should be aware that the locations where you will attend your biometrics appointment and your naturalization interview will be open only during business hours. You may need to get time off from work to go there, which may result in some missed wages. If you live far away, you may need to plan an overnight trip so that you can make sure to appear on time. This means that you may need to pay for a hotel near the location.