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Wait times lengthen for United States citizenship

Immigrants with green cards face increased wait times as the naturalization process bogs down those aspiring to citizenship. In some cities, application backlogs have doubled or tripled for those waiting for advanced job placements or higher education opportunities.

Shifting laws and proposed amendments keep applicants in a state of tension. Even after following all procedures, many fear that they stand on unstable ground while aiming at a moving target. Each new day begins with hope and ends with despair when the all-important appointment does not materialize.

Challenges to foreign talent desirability

The current administration suggests attracting skilled immigrants promotes economic benefits to the United States. Naturalization processing delays serve to undermine this goal. The expressed desirability of foreign talent begins to taste like rhetoric to pacify citizenship advocates.

Severe processing delays

An advocacy group coalition filed a lawsuit in federal court, challenging unreasonable processing times. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the target of the group’s legal challenge, states delays are due to a tremendous increase in applications. Their caseload of immigrants seeking naturalization under the former administration more than doubled to over 750,000 applications by mid-2017. 

A large number of Congress members expressed alarm to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Director at burgeoning delays in naturalization and other admittance levels, from visas to green cards. Yet the service’s core mandate inexplicably swerved from application processing to a 2019 budget diversion request to funnel over $200 million to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation round-ups.

Immigration experts raise questions 

Lawyers and others specializing in immigration assistance expect backlogs to increase. The naturalization system continues to tighten, even for those with legitimate green cards. New and onerous requirements spring up. Even immigrants who have received citizenship are in danger of losing it if a retroactive inspection of applications indicates fraud. in good faith, a permanent resident merely pointed out an error in his birthplace on his citizenship record. The United States government stripped the young man of his permanent resident status; his honest attempt to rectify an error otherwise would never have come to the attention of deportation officials. Ironically, the man’s father—who received U.S. citizenship decades ago—served U.S. government missions for the Pentagon.

The young man is appealing the decision. Proposed regulatory changes would increase the application backlog and raise the eligibility bar even higher. Naturalization candidates may want to seek legal help to navigate current and future requirements seemingly designed to exponentially increase the difficulty of acquiring American citizenship.