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Immigration reform may up the cost for citizenship applications

President Obama has been in the news lately for attempting to fix this country's ongoing immigration issues. Applying for citizenship in the United States has always been a challenge, but the latest immigration proposals may lead to even more complications.

Many Louisiana immigrants are aware of the financial struggles that lie ahead and have started putting money away for their citizenship applications. Currently, applications cost around $680, but some immigration proposals impose additional $2,000 fines.

These additional fines could deter even more immigrants from becoming legal citizens. According to a recent survey, out of the Hispanic immigrants eligible to become citizens, only 46% have gone through with the process. Many of these immigrants are not applying due to their lack of English skills and their inability to afford the application fees.

Last week, the House announced its reform principles, which would charge illegal immigrants who are already here fines and back taxes to gain citizenship. However, the principles did not discuss any special path to citizenship for these people.

Republican supporters of the new fines say that these fines are necessary to ensure that illegal immigrants who want to become citizens should have to pay a price. Many say that they do not want the fines to be so high that they deter people from applying for citizenship.

One southern credit union is offering low-interest loans to help immigrants afford these application fees. Applicants must put in $300, and the credit union will offer a $455 loan with a five percent interest rate. The credit union may expand the loans, if any of the current Congress proposals go in to effect. Hopefully, other credit unions will soon be offering more assistance to encourage more Louisiana illegal immigrants to apply for citizenship.

Source: ABC News, "Immigration Reform Might Raise Price of Citizenship," Christopher Sherman & Ramit Plushnick-Masti, Feb. 2, 2014

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