Naturalization wait times

Less than a year ago, CIS increased the fees charged to people applying for US citizenship and other immigration status. This resulted in a flood of a naturalization applications by legal immigrants. The LA Times reports some of these soon to be US citizens are impatient over the time they will have to wait before becoming citizens and the possibility they may therefore be ineligible to vote.

Moreno, a legal immigrant from Guatemala who came to Los Angeles more than 30 years ago, applied for citizenship this summer so she would be able to vote — starting with the 2008 presidential election.

But U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced recently that green card holders who applied after June 1 could have to wait 16 to 18 months for their applications to be processed. For Moreno, that means she might be unable to cast her ballot for president.

“It’s terrible,” said Moreno, 62. “It’s a long wait. . . . I want to vote. Mrs. Clinton needs my vote. Maybe my vote will put her in the White House.”

Citizenship applications nationwide nearly doubled over the last fiscal year, from 731,000 in 2006 to 1.4 million in 2007. In July and August alone, the agency received more than 500,000 applications for naturalization — more than three times what it normally receives in a two-month period.

The numbers soared as immigrants rushed to avoid an application fee increase that took effect July 30, raising the cost from $400 to $675

I was opposed to the fee increase from the time it was first announced. CIS is a dysfunctional agency, the fee increases hasn’t changed anything.

As to the 16 to 18 month wait, if people waited to apply for citizenship till the fee increase was going to happen, its theit fault they won’t be able to vote. Those who just became eligible for citizenship when the fee increase took place, yes they get my sympathy. They’re the true ‘victims’, of any CIS delays because of the 100% increase in naturalization applications.

Let me explain a little. A permanent resident alien can apply for citizenship, five year after attaining residency. Three years if they got PR status because of being married to a US citizen. To apply for citizenship, one has to fill out the N-400 form and mail it to the Service Center for the state you live in. For Florida residents, its the Mesquite Texas office.

Once Mesquite(or any other service center) is through processing the application, it is sent to a local Immigration office. For my family members and friends, it has been Miami. Miami sends a letter to the applicant with a date and time for their interview and citizenship test.

If the person passes the interview and citizenship test, another mail will be received shortly afterwards telling the future US citizen of the time and place they will be sworn in.

Now the 16 to 18 month time period from the time one applies for citizenship till swearing in cited in the LA Times article, isn’t I think all that unexpected or out of line. My wife Leonita, applied for citizenship after becoming eligible on Dec 17, 1992. When did she get citizenship? Jan 25, 1994 or 13 months after applying. My sister-in-law Leonette had a similar wait between applying and swearing in, as did a Polish priest friend of ours. My mother-in-law had a longer wait, after her citizenship test CIS said there was some extra processing that needed to be done. Even so, Nanay got sworn in about 16 months after applying.

Miami and Los Angeles are of course busy immigration areas. If one lived say in Montana, they may get done faster. Though I don’t have any examples to cite as proof of it.

What I’m trying to say is a 100% increase in applications only causing a further 3-5 month(a 25% to 50% increase) delay in what was basically a year long process to start with doesn’t sound out of line to me.

This is the second such article I’ve seen(Click here to read the other) like this since the fee increase took place. Both featuring people bellyaching about the wait. Maybe there are people are unhappy about the delay, but I’m more likely to think its the media and certain immigrant rights groups at work here. For neither article mentions what the wait time was before the recent surge in applications. If the LA Times or Sun-Sentinel did, readers may very well think these people are just whining.

What I said last November I think still applies-

If anyone has a right to be frustrated, its those US spouses who marry a foreign national and then find themselves having to live separately while Immigration takes care of the I-130 petition. Often these involve US military members, who have to leave their wives behind in South Korea, Japan, Germany or elsewhere as they PCS to their new duty station. I left the Navy in the fall of 1989, four months after marrying Leonita. Leonita had to stay behind in the Philippines till her petition was approved. We didn’t see one another for over three months.

So what legal immigrants deserve our sympathy? Those waiting for citizenship or those forced to live separate from their spouse? The answer should be apparent.

The LA Times article is the latest MSM immigrant meme going around. Expect to read more stories like it in the months ahead.

Kevin Johnson at the ImmigrationProf Blog has a differing opinion.

The Knucklehead of the Day award
Hillary Still Pulling The Same Old Stunts