Columbus family struggles with pathway to U.S. citizenship

Local News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — For one family of three, applying to become U.S. citizens is a challenging process, a struggle other applicants equally face with different stories.

Francisco Campos says his family and him are originally from Ecuador and have been living in Columbus for the past seven years. He says, now, they all want to become citizens with the goal of voting.

However, increased citizenship fees have added stress for his family.

“The father was eligible to apply for the citizenship as well as the son, but the mother needed to wait two more weeks because she had an extended trip to Ecuador because her mother was very sick,” said his attorney at Muchnicki & Bittner, LLP, Liliana Vazquez.

She says the Trump administration fees for citizenship will increase by more than 60%, from $725 to $1,170. For marriage-based green cards filed in the United States, application fees will go from $1,760 to $2,830. The government is also seeking to remove fee waivers on these forms.

“At 725 times 3, that’s almost 3 thousand dollars,” she said.

Attorney Vazquez says it’s the conversation she has been having with many clients. Some even living in fear and debating if applying is possible.

“It’s, do I keep this legal status that provides me the ability to travel and stability and work, or do I subject myself to that extra stress?” she said.

She says she is trying to help other Ohioans through the LULAC Citizenship Fairs. They help partner people with attorneys, go through their cases, and help them financially. At this time, seven out of 30 were accepted into their program. However, she says they are there to help them all year long.

Francisco says his application is delayed due to the pandemic and he’s unsure what will happen if the fee does go through.

The next hearing for immigration groups is scheduled Dec. 4.

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