USCIS Unveils New Fee Rule, Including NEW Partial Fee Waiver for Naturalization
1 million working poor can now afford to become U.S. citizens.
U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a final rule adjusting the fees required for most immigration applications and petitions. The new fees will be effective December 23, 2016. The fee rule has been made final after USCIS reviewed stakeholder feedback, including from NPNA and its members, during the 60-day public comment period for the proposed rule published.
The new fee rule establishes a three-level fee for application for naturalization (Form N-400). The standard fee will increase from $680 to $725 (including biometrics). USCIS will introduce a partial fee waiver that will apply to applicants with household incomes between 150-200 percent of federal poverty guidelines, or between $36,000-$48,000 per year (for a household of four). The full fee waiver for applicants with household incomes under 150 percent of poverty will remain in effect. Professor Manuel Pastor, Director of the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) at the University of Southern California, estimates that there are 1 million legal immigrants who will be eligible for the new partial naturalization fee waiver, and 2.7 million immigrants who are eligible for the full naturalization fee waiver.
“This new partial fee waiver, with the full waiver that has been in effect, will allow 3.7 million poor and working poor legal permanent residents to be able to become U.S. citizens and become full participants of our nation. Citizenship should not be a privilege limited to the wealthy and highly educated. This is an important step forward for our democracy,” said Eva Millona, NPNA Co-Chair and Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition.
NPNA applauds USCIS’s introduction of a partial fee waiver. We have long advocated for a partial waiver that would apply to those earning 150-250 percent of federal poverty guidelines. NPNA has commissioned research from CSII at USC and the Center for American Progress, hosted summits at the White House on the barriers to naturalization for the working poor, and engaged in vigorous advocacy for five years to win this fight. We are grateful to our partners and allies in this work including SEIU, UNITE HERE, AFL-CIO, UFCW, Mi Familia Vota, the New Americans Campaign, the Naturalization Working Group, Cities for Citizenship, and Congressman Luis Gutierrez.
NPNA remains deeply concerned about some of the forthcoming fee increases. We are particularly disappointed with the increase to the application for citizenship certificate (Form N-600). The application will now cost $1,170. USCIS provides no explanation for the near doubling of the already exorbitant fee for this Form.
This summer has been full of ups and downs, but recently team NPNA has a lot to celebrate.
American Dreams Platform
In December 2015, we launched the New American Dreams Platform, the first ever federal immigrant integration agenda created by our communities. The Platform, comprised of six planks, redefined what it means to be authentically, robustly pro-immigrant. We won Presidential candidates’ endorsements, convened partners for candidate education sessions throughout the spring and summer, and had the nation talking about the role of English instruction, adult education, health care, and pathways to citizenship in creating a more vibrant democracy for all.
Read about what we accomplished in our recent New American Dreams Platform – One Year Report. Our work is far from over. Now we’ll build from the Platform, which provided a blueprint for organizing, and begin work on the New American Dreams Campaign, the advocacy to make our policy ideas real at every level of government.Read More
This is Mayra. She is an undocumented mom who could have qualified for DAPA. She was also one of the first Community Navigators trained last May and has worked in the community with the Southwest Organizing Project in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood. “We’re angry and sad. But we need to keep pushing. We need to push for the real victory: inclusive, integrated immigration reform. And before and after, we have to fight for our health, housing, safety, and more. These issues are all connected”
Immigrants have long shown resilience in the face of adversity. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against our families and against President Obama’s sensible, humane executive actions to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation and their ability to work in this country legally. Although our community feels the pain left in the wake of the decision, there is renewed energy to continue the fight for immigration reform. Throughout the last month, our members have continued to train leaders and serve our communities. Read more about the amazing work happening with NPNA member Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nebraska to support eligible green card holders to become citizens and to learn about the women’s leadership development initiative we’ve piloted with NPNA member Nebraska Appleseed.
The National Partnership for New Americans(NPNA) harnesses the collective power and resources of the country’s 37 largest regional immigrant rights organizations in 31 states. Our aim is to achieve a vibrant, just and welcoming democracy for all. Immigrants are the soul of our organization, and immigrant communities inspire, implement and champion our work.
WE THE PEOPLE – the ninth annualNational Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC) is coming to Nashville, Tennessee this December 11-13. Registration is open and discounted Early Bird rates are available through September 15. Join us! This year’s NIIC takes place at a crucial crossroads for America and amid heightened national conversations on what it means to be American and our values about race, immigration and more. For the immigrant and refugee integration field, WE THE PEOPLE will be an essential space to address the new landscape following the Supreme Court’s recent decision, the ongoing global refugee crisis, a year of candidate engagement on immigration policy, and a new Presidential Administration on the horizon. Join us for the largest gathering on immigrant integration in the country, where leaders from the policy, business, nonprofit, labor, academic, faith, community, and philanthropic sectors come together to discuss the most pressing questions in our field, share effective practices and programs, build lasting solutions, and create a vision for immigrant integration. Nashville is known far and wide as the home of country music, but it is also home to the country’s fastest growing immigrant community and is a model for immigrant integration in a “new gateway city.”
Scenes from NIIC 2015 in New York City.
Register for NIIC today and access our discounted Early Bird rates. We can’t wait to see you in Nashville as we work to build a more vibrant, just, and welcoming democracy for all! Lindsey Harris and Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Directors, TIRRC, NPNA Board Member Steven Choi, Executive Director, NYIC, NPNA Board Member Eva Millona, Executive Director, MIRA, NPNA Board Member María Rodriguez, Executive Director, FLIC, NPNA Board Member Tara Raghuveer, Deputy Director, NPNA
Supreme Court decides against five million, immigrant rights movement to fight for comprehensive reform
The fight for immigration reform and justice for immigrant families will continue
CHICAGO—Today, in a 4-4 affirmation of the 5th Circuit Court’s decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against our families and against President Obama’s sensible, humane executive actions to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation and to allow them to work freely in this country.
The Court’s ruling is disappointing and comes at a time when we must fight even harder than before to ensure the safety of our communities and to fight hate and racism. Our movement has fought to win the deferred action programs, and we have been working tirelessly to build capacity to implement them. NPNA and member groups have assisted thousands secure relief. This ruling not only deepens fear and separation among millions of Americans, but it also leaves another $2.1 billion in taxes the table, that could have added to the already $11.6 billion in state and local taxes that undocumented immigrants provide.
Through this setback, our work continues. We will continue to fight for a more vibrant, just, and welcoming America– and against attacks on our communities.
“NPNA and member groups have worked tirelessly to expand the capacity to bring relief to our families,” said María Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition and NPNA Board Member. “Today’s ruling is a setback for millions of American families, but we will continue to fight for our communities to dismantle the detention and deportation machine that comes at such a high moral and financial cost”
“We are outraged that the Supreme Court decided to neglect the safety and unity of millions in our community,” said Angelica Salas,Executive Director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles and NPNA Board Member. “We know the law is on our side and now we must move forward and fight for real reform. We’re families, workers, students and we are proud to contribute to this nation.”
The President’s proposed programs were consistent with decades of actions taken by presidents of both parties. Additionally,the Supreme Court explicitly stated in 2012 that the federal government has “broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration” under the Constitution.
DACA, introduced in 2012, currently provides relief and work authorization to 750,000 undocumented young people. The unfreezing of DAPA and expanded DACA programs could have allowed over five million to access similar relief. 2012 DACA is not affected by today’s decision. All who are eligible should continue to apply for DACA and to renew it if they already have.
Yet, immigrants are often underemployed relative to their skill level and disproportionately employed in lower wage and dangerous jobs. New Americans face particular challenges based on language access, unfamiliarity with networks and opportunities, and more.
NPNA exists to leverage the collective capacity and resources of our member organizations and the communities they represent. Our members, the country’s largest and most powerful immigrant-serving organizations, have fought on the front lines of the immigrant rights movement. Our strategy is to put those organizations at the center of the national conversation about immigrant integration and to build their capacity to deliver high-quality services by, with, and for new Americans. Our members are working hard to integrate immigrants and refugees into the American workforce and pursue a more vibrant and vital economy for all. Read more about NPNA’s approach to policy and service delivery on our freshly minted website.
In this Junedispatch, we want to share highlights of NPNA’s work with our members on:
Policy to support new American adult education and workforce integration
Programs to innovate linguistic integration
Policy to Support New American Adult Education and Workforce Integration
Many members of the NPNA family have participated in their state plans for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) implementation. WIOA will provide approximately $3 billion in federal funds to support employment services, including job training and adult education. Adult education and workforce programs too often exclude immigrants on the basis of immigration status or in favor of individuals more likely to produce measurable workforce outcomes. WIOA doesn’t do much to reverse the dismal track record of workforce training programs in serving Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals and meeting immigrant adult learner needs. We are committed to ensuring that WIOA works for our communities and provides equity of services to meet the diverse needs of immigrants and refugees.
NPNA took several steps to support our members’ contributions to the WIOA implementation process:
Surveyed NPNA members to understand where and how our organizations were plugging in and how we could help;
Developed materials demystifying WIOA and identifying the key implications for immigrant-serving organizations;
Compiled a database of key state and local contacts and the deadlines for engaging;
Hosted the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) and the National Skills Coalition (NSC) on several of our network policy calls. They have consistently and generously offered data and policy expertise to support our network; and,
Participated in a national skills policy table to zero in on spaces available for NPNA members to contribute to the ongoing advocacy to improve WIOA’s service to our communities.
Programs to Innovate Economic and Linguistic Integration
NPNA is proud to work with several of our members on English Innovations (EI). With OneAmerica and Learning Games Network, we are building capacity among select member organizations to offer a non-traditional educational model that integrates English language instruction, digital literacy, and community building for adult immigrant English language learners. EI was made possible by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The English Innovations pilot is under way in six NPNA member organizations: PAZ, TIRRC, MIRA, CASA, FLIC, and Michigan United.
English Innovations has served over 400 participants so far. Participants engage in peer-to-peer, social, and project-based learning while gaining confidence with English and technology. EI classes bridge the gap for immigrants to pursue their goals in the U.S., where limited English proficiency and digital barriers often stand in the way of robust integration.
NPNA Member Profile: OneAmerica (Washington)
OneAmerica is Washington State’s largest immigrant and refugee advocacy non-profit. OneAmerica is a leader among NPNA organizations in terms of policy and programmatic work on economic and linguistic integration.
OneAmerica believes it is vital to strengthen the three pillars of integration – economic, civic, and linguistic – for immigrants and refugees to build power in our communities and realize the American Dream. OneAmerica’s vision for workforce integration is a system that acknowledges immigrant workers of all education levels as assets, a system that eradicates barriers to living-wage careers, and a robust, diverse economy that utilizes the skills, talents, and expertise brought by immigrants and refugees to build prosperity for all.
“Together and over time, OneAmerica, NPNA and the Learning Games Network have the potential to reshape ESL infrastructure in the United States.”-Rich Stolz, Executive Director of OneAmerica and NPNA Board Member
CHICAGO – Today the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released data for the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2016 (January-March 2016). The data shows a 27.7 percent increase in applications received by USCIS relative to the same quarter of FY 2015. This also represents a 34.4 increase in applications over quarter 1 of FY 2016 (October-December 2015). In total, USCIS has received 439,889 citizenship applications in FY 2016. If this rate continues (overall 2016 numbers are 21.7 percent higher than 2015), then we will see 952,8000 new citizens and potential voters this year!
The naturalization process generally takes five months from start to finish. Applicants undergo a background check and must pass an exam, conducted in English, on U.S. civics and history unless they qualify for a waiver.
NPNA participated, during the same period, in the “Stand Up to Hate” campaign, convened by the National Partnership for New Americans in partnership with SEIU, Latino Victory Foundation, Mi Familia Vota, UNITE HERE, iAmerica and UFCW along with Congressman Luis Gutierrez. The campaign aimed to support eligible green card holders to become citizens in order to vote in November’s election. The campaign held 305 workshops across the country, engaging over 500,000 by educating them on the application process and directly assisting 12,781 to complete the application itself.
“The community is feeling the urgency to become citizens. In Colorado we’ve seen unprecedented turnout at our workshops. People are motivated by the current political climate,” said Julien Ross, Executive Director of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) and NPNA Board Member.
ICYMI, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah recently did a hilarious segmenton the Stand Up to Hate naturalization efforts. They feature Chicago based organizations The Resurrection Project, Southwest Organizing Project, and Erie Neighborhood House.