Citizenship ceremony 2

Forty-two area immigrants are sworn in as naturalized U.S. citizens during a Feb. 10, 2012 ceremony at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigraion Services building in Merrifield. (Photo by Brian Trompeter)

Arlington government officials plan to expand a subsidy program that helps prospective U.S. citizens pay the costs associated with their efforts.

County Board members on July 14 are expected to increase the subsidy amount and expand the ranks of those eligible to participate in the subsidy program, which is funded by private donations.

Under the plan, some low-income residents will receive the full amount ($725) charged by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to process an application for naturalization. Previously, the subsidy had been about half that.

Those who already qualify for a reduced naturalization fee due to very low income levels will see the subsidy grow to $405, which will cover the costs.

The program began in January when a local resident donated $7,000 in support of citizenship efforts. Additional donations of more than $35,000 have since come in. No tax dollars are involved, although the county’s Department of Human Services does provide in-kind support that includes marketing and evaluating applications to ensure prospective citizens meet eligibility criteria.