April 2024

By Ramya Reddy (NPNA), Manuel Pastor (ERI), Justin Scoggins (ERI), and Thai V. Le (ERI)

The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) and USC Dornsife Equity Research Institute (ERI) released 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 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 our other publications by research area

    Immigrant Integration & Racial Justice

    Our work on immigrant integration and racial justice brings together three emphases: scholarship that draws on academic theory and rigorous research, data that provides information structured to highlight the process of immigrant integration over time, and engagement that seeks to create new dialogues with government, community organizers, business and civic leaders, immigrants and the voting public to advance immigrant integration and racial equity.

    Economic Inclusion & Climate Equity

    In the area of economic inclusion, we at ERI advance academic theory and practical applications linking economic growth, environmental quality, and civic health with bridging of racial and other gaps; produce accessible and actionable data and analysis through the data tools; and establish research partnerships to deepen and advance the dialogue, planning, and actions around racial equity, environmental justice, and the built environment.

    Social Movements & Governing Power

    ERI’s work in the area of governing power includes: conducting cross-disciplinary studies of today’s social movements, supporting learning and strategizing efforts to advance dialogues among organizers, funders, intermediaries, evaluators, and academics, and developing research-based social change frameworks and tools to inform—and be informed by—real-world, real-time efforts towards a vision of deep change.

    Publications Directory

    In 2020, the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) merged to form the USC Equity Research Institute (ERI).

    The full list of publications published under our previous and current names can be found in our publications directory.

    a view of the Los Angeles skyline