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Citizenship application fee a big obstacle for many immigrants

Recent research shows that, when immigrants consider applying for citizenship, price matters. When you add the application fee to the cost of getting fingerprints, the total comes to $680. And the research suggests that the price is a serious deterrent to a lot of would-be citizens.

There are immigrants throughout New York who are among the 8.5 million people eligible for citizenship. These are green card holders, but the high price of the application stands in many people's way.

In fact, research conducted by the Center for the Study of Immigration Integration indicates that citizenship applications dropped significantly in 2008. That was likely due to the 2007 increase in the application fee.

A New York Daily News article quotes a 78-year-old woman who was born in the Dominican Republic. She is a retired seamstress who now lives in East New York. She says she can't afford to pay to renew her green card, much less the steep application fee. "I want to be a citizen," she said, "because it's a beautiful thing to vote. And you can be calm in this country. There's no other country like this one."

According to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center, about 93 percent of immigrants of Latino heritage expressed the desire to apply for citizenship, but 18 percent of those surveyed said that the application fee was their main obstacle.

Right now the path to citizenship is not an easy one, but there is a real hope throughout the country that meaningful immigration reform is on the way. There is also legal help available for immigrants who want to ensure the best chance that their citizenship applications will be accepted.

Source: New York Daily News, "The price of liberty: Citizenship application fees spiked to $680," Erica Pearson, April 9, 2013

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