Hmong green card holders advised to apply for citizenship now

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Community organizers are advising Hmong permanent residents to apply for citizenship now, before a potential fee increase.

Chai Moua and other Freedom, Inc. staff inform locals that the fee to a U.S. citizenship could increase.

Chai Moua celebrated the Hmong New Year at the Alliant Energy Center on Friday, informing the attendees that the price of citizenship could get more expensive.

Moua is a staff member at Freedom, Inc., a non-profit organization that engages with and serves different low-income communities.

“The cost to naturalize is going to be a lot higher, almost double,” Moua said. “So that’s going to be a big barrier for our families.”

Currently, the filing fee for a U.S. citizenship application is $640. A proposal by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) suggests the new fee increase 83 percent to $1,170.
The agency wrote, “Current fees do not recover the full costs of providing adjudication and naturalization services.”

Yia Vang was at the New Year event. She became a U.S. citizen three years ago, after leaving Laos in 1989 for fear of persecution. In Hmong, she said that she became a citizen to fully experience life in America, which includes voting.

Vang said that when she applied for citizenship, the process was difficult and expensive. But she is encouraging others to apply. “I think it’s very important for us to contribute to the community,” she said.

The proposal by the DHS is in a public comment period until Dec. 16.