For an immigrant family, the struggle to reach the American dream can seem uphill and challenging. Immigrants often feel the need to quickly get on their feet when they settle in the U.S.; find one or more jobs to support themselves; enroll in English classes, and other learning opportunities. Meeting all of these pressures can improve the chance at reaching the dreamed-about lifestyle.

Many immigrants do not know that the legal immigration process is very expensive. Coming up with a timeline and a financial plan for moving through the immigration process is a smart financial decision that can help an individual or family achieve the dream of a home, car, and college.

Unfortunately, for many individuals and families living in the United States, wages remain unchanged, while costs for basic necessities like housing, food, and healthcare continue to rise. As a result, the planning needed to achieve the American Dream can seem unmanageable, and unattainable.

The immigration process is expensive, complex, and confusing, and can be stressful as well, particularly for a large family. Almost every step in advancing each person’s immigration process has associated fees with it, from the application for employment authorization at the beginning of the journey, to the last step of naturalization. These fees regularly range in the hundreds or thousands of dollars. These ongoing costs are unique to the immigrant story, and families planning for the future must take them into consideration.

Maine’s employers should consider helping with the costs. Being the oldest state in the country, Maine needs a strong, youthful workforce. As the state seeks to attract and retain workers, costs unique to the immigrant experience could be covered as a “benefit” offered to eligible employees, similar to a “tuition reimbursement model.” The average age of immigrants in Maine is lower than the average age of native-born Mainers. In addition, immigrants’ levels of education are consistently on a par with, if not higher than, that of U.S.-born Mainers. While fees and other costs related to immigration weigh heavily on individuals, Maine’s employers could earn a competitive advantage over employers around the country by acting to help shoulder those costs.

For more information about fees and general costs associated with the immigration process, visit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website: