JOLIET, Ill. – When Daniel Suarez officially is granted U.S. residency, the arduous, long process will have been worth every penny, because he will have spent many of them.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver from Monterrey, Mexico, estimates the cost of application, attorney and filing fees at $15,000 since he began his journey 18 months ago to obtain U.S. residency (also known as a green card, it allows for living and residing permanently in the country).
“I think now that I’m living that process, I understand why a lot of people don’t do it and do it the difficult way because it’s extremely expensive, extremely long,” Suarez said Saturday morning at Chicagoland Speedway. “A lot of people will imagine that for me — I’m here and I pay taxes and everything — that it would be easier, but it’s a pain in the butt to do it, and it’s extremely expensive. I can guarantee a lot of people cannot pay for that and cannot afford it.”
Suarez, 26, began racing in the United States in 2011, making seven K&N East starts after starting 14 races in the NASCAR Mexico Series from 2009-10.
He said he had a visa for “special talents” that required renewal every three years in his hometown, so he elected to pursue the green card. Suarez said he couldn’t leave the United States for six months while awaiting final approval and described it as in “the last details of the process. I don’t know if it’s been like that forever or not, honestly I don’t know, but at least today it’s long and expensive.
“Just a rough number, I’ve spent around $13-14,000 counting attorneys that have been helping me. I’ve paid extra in a couple things to actually make it faster, but it wasn’t maybe another thousand dollars and even with that it’s been over a year. I don’t think the average people coming to this country has just $10,000 to spend in (getting) a green card. I feel like it’s a lot of money, but I guess that’s why a lot of people don’t do it because it’s just too expensive and a long process.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security website, among those eligible to apply for green cards are “first preference immigrant workers” with “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics.”
Green card holders are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after five years.