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· This article from Migration Policy Institute takes a look at the most recent naturalization data available in the United States, the characteristics of naturalized citizens, and compares it to historical trends.
· How does immigration and naturalization affect the US and the economy? How has immigration policy changed throughout the past 10 years?
Naturalization confers citizenship on foreign nationals with legal permanent resident (LPR) status in the United States, granting immigrants the same important privileges and responsibilities as U.S.-born citizens, including the right to vote. More than 707,000 immigrants naturalized in fiscal year (FY) 2017. This brought the number of naturalized U.S. citizens to nearly 22 million, about half of the overall immigrant population of 44.5 million. From FY 2008 through FY 2017, the annual number of naturalizations has ranged from about 620,000 to slightly more than 1 million, depending on institutional factors such as processing times and backlogs as well as the financial constraints and personal motivations that shape immigrants’ decisions about whether to apply; the annual number of naturalization applications filed has greatly increased since FY 2015, and so too have processing wait times.
In order to become a citizen, applicants must meet a set of requirements outlined in the Immigration and Nationality Act. These include completing a period of lawful permanent residence, demonstrating basic proficiency in English and knowledge of U.S. history and government, and passing a background check to prove good moral character. In addition to gaining the right to vote in U.S. elections, naturalized citizens have the right to sponsor immediate family members for immigration, greater access to government benefits and public-sector jobs, and protection from deportation. Naturalization is also associated with improved economic outcomes, such as higher incomes and homeownership.
Read the full article about naturalization trends by Brittany Blizzard and Jeanne Batalova at Migration Policy Institute.