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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.


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Comments (9)

This article doesn't help t... (Below threshold)

This article doesn't help the situation. "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." I call BS on this appplication 'so she can vote in Nov'. Thirty years wasn't long enough? I doubt she is smart enough to pass the test. Time to send the 'hanger on's' home to the hell holes they came from, not to turn the U.S. into a hell hole to suit them. The desire to vote for Shrillary should be proof of insanity.

Moreno has lived here for 3... (Below threshold)

Moreno has lived here for 30 years and is ticked about waiting 1.5-2 more years? Cry me a river.

Moreno could have applied 15 years ago and voted in the last few elections.

I agree with scrapiron this is typical liberal BS. The MSM doesn't get how stupid they sound when they publish some of these stories. "Wah, Wah, a 2 year wait!! and, btw she waited 30 to apply" DUH!

As a legal immigrant I want... (Below threshold)
TonyG Author Profile Page:

As a legal immigrant I want to first up thank the US for granting me the opportunity to come here. I understand that immigration policy is the decision of citizens and I'm very appreciative of the fact that you have all made the offer available.

I just have 2 comments:

1. I moved here 10 years ago, I spent the first 4 years on a H-1B because I thought I might return back home to Australia but then decided that I was having such a great time here (seriously, you guys get a bum rap internationally and I don't hesitate to tell people that the US is my second favorite country after Australia :)).

I then applied for a green card and that process took 6 years. So if I'm applying for citizenship after my 5 years wait then I'll have been in country 15 years before the start of the process.

Not the 30 years but the process does take some time, just an FYI. (as an aside I'm conflicted about the opportunity to hold US citizenship even though it doesn't require me to relinquish my Australian one because I feel that the responsibilities associated with being a citizen are so important I should consider myself an American first, and while I love this country I still think of myself as an Australian).

2. The whole process is so opaque that it almost sends you spare (I'm sure that it's no better, and most probably worse heading to Australia) so I can see why people would make stupid statements like the one in the article.

As I said above I'm grateful to the American people for the opportunity to live here and I have no problem with the overall speed of the process but just let me know where the hell I am in the queue. It's OK to say "We'll get to you in 3 years, you're number XX in the queued" but the way it works now is that you have no idea what is happening and the stress that causes is pretty bad.

Anyway just my AUD$0.02 - Great country and thanks again for letting me come over :)


Tony G.. Welcome to America... (Below threshold)

Tony G.. Welcome to America fellow American.

The Thunder Run has linked ... (Below threshold)

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 01/07/2008 A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Morena baby.....what have y... (Below threshold)

Morena baby.....what have you been doing for 30 friggin years, making burritos? Give me a break.

I support long, cost, drawn out process for immigration and citizenship because it tends to discourage foreign nationals from coming here.

Immigrants of the world, unite! Go to China and India, their economies are growing faster than ours. Only they won't likely take you, if you're not ethnicially Chinese or Indian. See Americans aren't the only bigots! LoL!

Good commentary. I don't s... (Below threshold)

Good commentary. I don't see the LA Times since I dropped my subscription years ago.

Spot on on identifying the meme -- regulated immigration is bad. Interesting that it fits into a conservative meme too, that immigrants would vote Democratic.

Tony G: and a hearty welco... (Below threshold)

Tony G: and a hearty welcome from our neck of the woods too!

I am like TonyG. I came to ... (Below threshold)

I am like TonyG. I came to the US ten years ago to work at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). I was under a J1 Visa. I was offered a position as an assistant Professor at one of the best schools in the country. It was very tough to get the H1B visa after having a J1. Anyway after so much paper work from my embassy (I forgive them)I become a lawful worker in the US. Since I am supposed to work at the american university for all my life the college applied for green card on my behalf. I was granted permanent residency (Thank you thank you). That was five years ago. I have just applied for citizenship. If I have to wait I will wait. I just don't like to wait because I am from a certain region in the world. These guys who waited 30 years to apply are freaking kidding me. It is now that you are thinking of voting...I think these guys made applying for citizenship harder. And as you know newspaper like to stir trouble. peace.






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