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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) and USC Dornsife Equity Research Institute (ERI) are releasing a new policy brief, “Naturalize Now: Economic Equity and the Path to Naturalization,” analyzing and discussing the impact of the new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) naturalization fee structure. The final USCIS fee rule, which adjusts application fees and changes requirements for certain immigration benefit requests, went into effect on April 1, 2024 and expands access to naturalization to many who could not afford to become citizens under the previous application costs.

The expansion of access to the reduced fee and the codification of the fee waiver for naturalization was a significant win for immigrant advocates and lower-income immigrants, following a public comment period on the rule during which over 5,400 comments were submitted by community organizations, including many NPNA member organizations. While the new fee rule establishes an increase in the naturalization filing fee for some, the policy brief released today highlights who qualifies for the waived or reduced fee ($380) for naturalization.

Key findings:

  • Of the 8.6 million eligible-to-naturalize population across the United States, more than two in three (71%) now qualify for a reduced fee ($380) or full fee waiver ($0).

  • Compared to the previous fee rule, there are approximately 1.8 million more eligible-to-naturalize people who qualify for a reduced naturalization fee.

  • California is home to the largest number of eligible-to-naturalize immigrants – about 350,700 people – who newly qualify for the reduced fee, followed by Texas (281,200), Florida (215,800), New York (126,100), and Illinois (78,500).

  • More than 650,000 additional eligible-to-naturalize immigrants from Mexico now qualify for the reduced fee, followed by about 135,400 immigrants from Central America, 127,200 from South America, 121,600 from the West Indies, and 92,000 from Cuba.

  • Latinos make up the majority (57%) of the newly qualified eligible-to-naturalize immigrants. Asian Americans are the second largest group at 17%, followed by White (15%) and Black (8%).

Read additional findings and access the complete policy brief here.

“While the new fee rule is far from perfect, we are pleased that USCIS was responsive to input on naturalization access during the open comment period, which has led to greater access to citizenship for lower-income communities,” said Nicole Melaku, Executive Director of the National Partnership for New Americans. “In this critical year for our nation’s democracy and building on recent years’ record-breaking naturalization numbers, now a majority of eligible-to-naturalize people across the nation qualify for a reduced or waived naturalization application fee. This is a huge win for our communities, but this win can’t be fully realized without our communities taking advantage of this new opportunity. Our democracy is only as strong as Americans’ voting access and participation; we urge all eligible-to-naturalize residents to apply for citizenship this year, register to vote, and turn out to the polls in November.” 

“The new USCIS naturalization fee structure represents a significant step towards a more inclusive society. By expanding access to reduced fees and waivers, we empower nearly 2 million eligible-to-naturalize immigrants,” said Professor Manuel Pastor and Director of the USC Equity Research Institute. “The findings in this brief highlight the importance of accessible pathways to citizenship, and underscores the power of advocacy and community engagement in shaping policy outcomes. We’re not just talking numbers; we’re talking about enhancing equity and strengthening democracy.”

“The naturalization process offered low equity until now. Indeed, every year, nearly 1 million legal permanent residents (LPRs) are naturalized, but there are 9 million who are not,” said Pablo Blank, Director of Immigrant Integration at CASA. “For many of them, being unable to afford the process was the main barrier. This new fee schedule will allow them to afford the process and submit their applications. At CASA, over 80% of the LPRs we help will qualify for a fee waiver or reduced fee. We need to ensure that LPRs know about this new benefit. The first weeks of implementation have been promising, and we look forward to helping many more of our community members to become U.S. citizens.”

Leticia, an immigrant from Nicaragua who works full time as a School Manager in Montgomery County, MD, said “I got my green card in 2002. For years I could not afford the naturalization process. But when CASA called me to let me know about this new reduced fee, I ran to their office. I could submit my application on April 1. I hope I can naturalize on time to vote in November.” 


The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) is a multi-ethnic, multiracial coalition of 70 of the nation’s largest immigrant and refugee rights organizations with reach across over 40 states. Together with our members, we advance immigrant and refugee equity and inclusion, build and expand immigration legal services and integration programming capacity, and drive campaigns that strengthen democracy through increased civic participation. See our website for more information at

The USC Dornsife Equity Research Institute (ERI) seeks to use data and analysis to contribute to a more powerful, well-resourced, intersectional, and intersectoral movement for equity. For more information, visit

With over 155,000 lifetime members across 46 US states, CASA is a national powerhouse organization building power and improving the quality of life in the working-class: Black, Latino/a/e, Afro-descendent, Indigenous, and Immigrant communities. CASA creates change with its power building model blending human services, community organizing, and advocacy in order to serve the full spectrum of the needs, dreams, and aspirations of members.