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The U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the government agency that is in charge of the whole immigration process in the United States.

Foreign nationals applying for a visa or green card have to file certain petitions/applications either at the American Consulate abroad or with the USCIS if he/she is in the US. These applications/petitions can be found at the uscis website. In addition to this website, there are many private organizations who have these forms on their website and charge a fee for assisting their users in preparing and filing the applications/petitions. The USCIS is the authority that manages these applications/petitions and makes a decision on these..

Eligible green card holders aspiring to become US citizens have to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. When the USCIS proposed a fee hike for immigration applications/petitions, there was deep concern that there would be a fall in the number of citizenship applications filed. In addition to this, when the USCIS proposed to revise the English and Civics test, many feared that immigrants might be discouraged about upcoming revisions to the U.S. civics test and thought the tests would be made tougher.

Some believed the fee hike for the Naturalization application would prevent many from applying for citizenship. Though the fee was revised for many other petitions/applications, the USCIS did not change the submission fee for the citizenship application.

The submission fee for the citizenship form is $595 and an additional $85 fee is required for biometrics. Applicants must send the fee with his/her application else the US citizenship application will be returned.. Applicants have to pay the fee with a check or money order drawn on a US bank payable to the Department of Homeland Security. While writing, do not use the initials DHS or USDHS. Also note that USCIS does not accept cash.

Applicants residing in Guam should address the fee payable to the “Treasurer, Guam,”and residents of the US Virgin Islands should make the fee payable to the “Commissioner of Finance of the Virgin Islands.”

The $85 Fees for biometric services is separate from the $595 application fee. In a few occasions, the USCIS may also take your photograph and signature as part of the biometric services. Another important point is that ,the submission fee is not refundable even if you voluntarily withdraw your application for citizenship or even if your case is rejected.

Persons applying for naturalization based on their service in the Armed Forces of the United States need not pay the filing fee. Additionally, applicants 75 years or older, or filing on the basis of one’s service in the Armed Forces of the US, or if filing from outside the US, need not pay for biometrics.

Applications not including the submission fee will be returned thus delaying the citizenship process, that normally itself is a lengthier process. So applicants should make sure their application package has the application, the required supporting documents and the submission fee. Also care should be taken to ensure it is mailed to the correct USCIS address. Being careless in these would result in unnecessary delay.

Applicants who cannot afford to pay the submission fee can ask for a “fee waiver” from USCIS. If USCIS grants such request, they will accept the US citizenship application with the applicant not having to pay the fee. If the request is rejected, the USCIS will return the application and he/she has to reapply and pay the fee.

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