Tens of thousands file for U.S. citizenship, permanent residency

May 28, 2007|By Orlando Sentinel

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Tens of thousands of immigrants - record numbers for this decade - are scrambling to file applications, pay fees, and take the English and civics classes that will prepare them to become U.S. citizens.

The surge in petitions for U.S. citizenship and permanent residency comes as Congress reconsiders immigration laws and federal officials finalize plans to raise application fees.

Nationwide, at least 118,600 immigrants took the first step to request U.S. citizenship in March, compared with about 74,200 for the same period a year earlier, figures from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services show.

Under the proposed changes, the cost of citizenship applications would increase from $330 per person to $595. Applications for legal residency would rise from $325 to $905. The cost of yearly renewal of work permits would increase from $180 to $340. The fees are expected to go into effect by August.

Ana Santiago, a spokeswoman in Miami for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said it is not clear why the number of petition requests has risen.

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