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ALLAN WERNICK: Apply for U.S. citizenship now to counter change in fee waiver rules


Now’s the time to apply for U.S. citizenship. A coming change in fee waiver rules will make it harder for green card holders to get that waiver.

We don’t know when the new fee waiver rules are coming, but they’re definitely on the way. Under current rules, USCIS will waive the filing fees for form N-400, Application for Naturalization, if you are receiving an income-based public benefit, such as Medicaid, your household income is less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines or you can prove you are in financial distress.

Under the new rule, simply proving that you receive a need-based benefit won’t be enough to get you a fee waiver. To get the waiver, you’ll need to document that you meet one of the other two criteria. Most applicants who receive benefits will qualify under the new rules, but only if they meet the onerous documentation requirements.

Despite its claims, the Department of Homeland Security isn’t seeking to weed out underserving applicants. DHS designed the rule to make it harder for poor and low-income immigrants to get U.S. citizenship. Don’t wait. Apply now.

The good news is that CUNY (the City University of New York) and the Daily News are holding a free citizenship application event on Sept. 21 at John Jay College in Manhattan. There, you’ll get expert help completing your naturalization application and if you qualify, get help applying for a fee waiver. Call (646) 664-9400 or register online at

The Sept. 21 event celebrates National Citizenship Day. Joining CUNY and the Daily News are media partners WXTV Univision 41, WABC-TV, and El Diario. Sponsors include the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), N.Y. Chapter; Bloomberg Philanthropies; Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project; Casa Puebla; the CUNY School of Professional Studies; Documented; Dominicanos USA; Fragomen Worldwide; Immigrant Justice Corps; John Jay College of Criminal Justice; Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs; MIRA USA; NALEO Educational Fund; NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA); New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC); New York State Office for New Americans (ONA); Qué Buena 92.7 FM; The Legal Aid Society; The New Americans Campaign; Unimás Nueva York; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; WADO 1280 AM; La X96.3; and The YMCA.