Becoming a U.S. Citizen Is an Expensive Nightmare

Darrell M. West writes about his German wife’s experience becoming an American after they’d been married for seven years. “Terrible,” would be a good summation.

1. It costs thousands of dollars.

Something I didn’t realize when I started the process is that Citizenship and Immigration Services is funded by applicant fees, not federal tax dollars. That means it is perpetually understaffed and underfunded. There were charges for taking your finger-prints. File the wrong form and have to send in a new one? You paid twice.

2. It’s complicated even for our nation’s brightest:

For many immigrants, it is virtually impossible for them to afford the fees, handle the paperwork, and navigate a complex bureaucratic process. Even with a Ph.D. in political science, I was overwhelmed with the complexity of the multiple applications, fees, documentation, interviews, and trips to the immigration office.

3. It’s stupidly archaic.

Virtually every communications involved physically going to the post office and mailing documents back and forth. American immigration is a 19th century process in a 21st century world.

His saga is a like a comedy of errors. Except it’s not funny! And it’s reallllll. And it’s also just How It Is. (via)


6 Comments / Post A Comment

Oh my god yes. It’s all true.

deepomega (#22)

The best part is how there’s basically no way to do it for most people. See here.

ThatJenn (#916)

My best friend has been putting off doing this (he’s married to a US citizen), and based on his experience proving that they were in a legitimate marriage so he could live here at all, I completely understand.

kerrypolka (#3,331)

It’s like this in the UK too – we have to go to the post office to get our fingerprints taken, pay thousands, etc – except that every step is spaced out by six months to two years, so you spend years in status limbo.

Basically rich countries are not so keen on immigration, especially not with austerity/shit economies all over the place!

Kzinti (#1,805)

And yet the horrible witch that married my father (he’s now 68, she’s 36), stole money from him while he was hospitalized and tried to kill him by withholding his medications just got citizenship with apparently no problem.

squishycat (#3,000)

Is it less of a hassle if your immigration status is independent of your relationship with a US citizen? My boyfriend was working on his permanent residency before I even met him, with the help of lawyers retained by his employer (he works for a large company in Silicon Valley, so they hire a lot of educated immigrants and have immigration lawyers to help their employees out so they don’t have to constantly re-up their H1B visas). He got it in December. He hasn’t expressed any particular interest in going for citizenship anytime soon, but I suspect he will want to eventually, so long as he can keep dual citizenship with his home country, as I think not being able to participate politically will get to him after a while (but all of his family is back where he’s from, so he does’t want to lose the ease of travel that comes with being a citizen).

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