Path to American Citizenship Flawed: Immigrants Wonder, ‘Why Bother?’

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Home / Path to American Citizenship Flawed: Immigrants Wonder, ‘Why Bother?’

Is the U.S. immigration process broken? Image by kconnors

Many American communities choose to remain on the fence, so to speak, regarding the issues that complicate the process of placing undocumented residents on the path to legal citizenship.

The truth, is the presence of illegal immigrants in America affects everyone. If you want to learn more information regarding the path to American citizenship, access the Department of Homeland Security website. On first glance, there are many promising statistics.

For example, the DHS states that every day, the United States welcomes an average of 3,000 new citizens, completes 30,000 applications for various immigration benefits, helps U.S. parents adopt 125 foreign-born orphans, grants permanent residence to 3,400 people, and issues 7,300 Permanent Resident Cards. DHS also processes 200 refugee applications around the world, and grants asylum to 40 people already in the United States every day.

Citizenship Process: Slow and Painful

Is it appropriate in this day of advanced technology for one of the greatest nations to only welcome 3,000 new citizens on an average day? At first glance, if you’re not directly affected by immigration policies, you may look at the presented statistics and think that’s a lot of people receiving certification, but is it?

There are approximately 40,000,000 illegal immigrants currently in the United States. If they all applied for legal citizenship, and all passed the various tests to achieve citizenship, at the current rate of processing, it would take over 36 years to process all of the current undocumented immigrants – and that’s assuming the government offices worked weekends – and no other immigrants appeared in the country during that time.

So – how long does it take for an application to go through? According to The United States Citizenship website “Depending on where and when you choose to file your application, the period of time between sending in the completed application and the interview to become a U.S. Citizen can vary from five months to more than two years.

The author of the article continues to add, “The length of time for the entire process depends on the number of U.S. Citizenship applications the USCIS offices receive in each state. Additionally, making a mistake on your application can cost you even more time.

Choose Your Application Location Wisely!

If you’re seeking citizenship, check the wait times in your area before you choose a application location. The site also includes the various locations within the United States where you can apply for citizenship, and the last certifications process by location.

For example, the New Jersey processing office processed its last Certification of Citizenship, which was submitted December 11, 2012. For New York City, the most-recently processed Certification for Citizenship was submitted on September 24, 2012. In Casper Wyoming, the last-processed Certification of Citizenship was submitted a mere 5 months ago, which is the allotted time frame for The Department of Homeland Security.

Seeking Citizenship: The Time Frame

The DHS website documents a informative response to those seeking citizenship on their website, which helps people understand the process time frame, stating “As you use this information, keep in mind that this processing time is not just a projection of how long it will take to process your case from start to finish. It is a projection of how long it will take to process cases that were filed before yours and then process yours. Processing times can change as we process cases. We update our information as we process cases. So, if you don’t hear from us within the processing time based on what we are completing now, just check our website, or call customer service for updated processing time information.”

U.S. Processing Time: Appropriate or Too Slow?

Is the United States processing enough applications in proportion to the amount of people applying for citizenship? The office theoretically approves 3,000 people on a typical day; in reality, it appears to be processing much lower numbers.

Where do we go from here and how is this relevant? Many refugees from various war-torn areas of the world are looking for asylum from such places as Syria. In addition, there are professionals willing to move to America to provide innovation to an industry, but our immigration system delays their entry- that’s not even taking into account the various families who simply want to move to America for a better opportunity.

Huddled Masses, Yearning to Breathe Free

Our country is always pressed to be a positive example to the world, but in this case, we’re dragging our feet. America has a seriously high number of undocumented people already living in the U.S. but these individuals can not utilize the benefits that they earn due to their undocumented status.

Our government continues to move to change failing laws that govern ineffective policies. If we really want better control on issues like undocumented immigration, then our government needs to do a better job with the people attempting to go through the process legally.

DOHS. Citizenship and Immigration Overview. (2013). Official Website of the Department of Homeland Security. Accessed September 29, 2013.

United States Citizenship. USCIS Process. (2013). Accessed September 29, 2013.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. USCIS Processing Time Information. (2013). Accessed September 29, 2013.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.  Processing Time and Case Status. (2013). Accessed September 29, 2013.

Marrow, H. Undocumented residents in the United States. (2013). Blackwell Publishing, Ltd.

Marciniaka, K. Legal/illegal: protesting citizenship in Fortress America. (2013). Citizenship Studies.

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