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  • Viviane Nguyen

Immigration Fees Increase, More Financial Burden for Vietnamese Immigrants Seeking U.S. Citizenship

The 21 percent increase in a range of administrative fees for citizenship applications is adding to the challenges Vietnamese immigrants face when seeking U.S. citizenship. Specifically for immigrants seeking citizenship through naturalization, starting December 24, 2016, the fee for the Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) will increase from $595 to $640. This is the first increase since 2010. In 1994, the fee for Form N-400 was only $95.

The citizenship process for Vietnamese immigrants begin with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency responsible for handling immigrant applications including naturalizing immigrants. Naturalization is the process for a person who was not born in the United States to voluntarily become a U.S. citizen. The naturalization process includes filing the Application for Naturalization, demonstrating continuous residence in the U.S. for at least 5 years, and having a basic understanding of U.S. history and government through an interview.

According to the recent statistics from the Department of Homeland Security, between fiscal years 2013 to 2015, a total of 65,090 Vietnamese immigrants have been naturalized in the U.S. The top metropolitan areas for Vietnamese immigrants to reside are greater Los Angeles, San Jose, and Houston.

My family was one of the Vietnamese immigrant families who sought citizenship through naturalization. My parents, then in their 40s and 50s, were stressed as they struggled to memorize U.S. history and government facts to prepare for the interview. I recall sitting in the interview room as a third grader and answering questions my family prepared me to recite to become a naturalized citizen.

At the end of my interview, I passed and was given an American flag. Now, the cost of the flag to symbolize U.S. citizenship for future Vietnamese immigrants is only expected to be more expensive and challenging under the upcoming Trump administration that advocates for stricter immigration policies.

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Viviane Nguyen She is a lover of politics. She has researched and worked in different levels of government in San Jose, Sacramento, Washington D.C., and Thailand. She is motivated to highlight issues impacting the Vietnamese-American community and Asian American communities at large. She was formerly a Cal-in-Sacramento Fellow at UC Berkeley and notably a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow at the Goldman School of Public Policy. She wants to write to show why politics, especially in 2016, is important.

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