Updated: September 18, 2020 01:39 PM
Created: September 18, 2020 01:02 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Immigrant Law Center (NMILC) is offering free remote citizenship screenings before the fees increase on Oct. 2, 2020.
"Something that we're going to see is going to be a huge barrier for people to apply for citizenship,” Vanessa Gonzalez, the citizenship services coordinator for NMILC, said.
The change is coming from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Fees for the application are increasing by more than 80%.
Right now the fee is $725 but that is expected to jump up to $1,255. Fee waivers and reductions will also be eliminated.
Gonzalez said the other change is for residency renewals – which will go down from $455 to $405. She said those changes might have people renewing their residencies and not applying for their citizenship because it’s cheaper.
Gonzalez said the problem with that is a residency does not offer the same benefits as naturalization.
Citizenship can offer:
The City of Albuquerque and El Center de Igualdad y Derechos are also teaming up with the NMILC to offer the free service to help people apply.
People can call (505)247-1023 to sign up for the screening.
"We will review eligibility requirements with someone to see if they are eligible and to see if there is any risk with them applying for citizenship,” Gonzalez said.
She said they could help roughly 30 to 50 applicants.
“So essentially someone could apply for citizenship for free,” she said.
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