CSII Publications

Nurturing Naturalization: Could Lowering the Fee Help?

Prepared by Manuel Pastor, Jared Sanchez, Rhonda Ortiz, and Justin Scoggins

Commissioned by the National Partnership for New Americans with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

February 2013

Released by CSII and the Partnership for New Americans, Nurturing Naturalization: Could Lowering the Fee Help? explored the obstacles to citizenship for aspiring Americans by focusing on the fees associated with the naturalization process. Through original analysis of new data on naturalization from the Office of Immigration Statistics and the American Community Survey, the report indicated that fee increases can have a significant impact on both the volume and the composition of who naturalizes.

This finding is novel because some have suggested that earlier studies indicate that the demand for immigration services is not very price sensitive. However, a closer examination of that earlier work suggested that while this may be true of all immigrant services, naturalization seems to be responsive to price.

Previous research has demonstrated that naturalization can improve incomes and enhance civic participation. For a nation of immigrants, encouraging naturalization and full participation in our civic and economic life would seem to be a goal on which many Americans can agree, so the report asserted that the fee structure should be changed to reduce the financial barriers to integrating fully into our society, economy and democracy.

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