U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization
The past years in the world of immigration have been challenging ones. Immigrants have often been in limbo, anxiously watching continuous legal challenges to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the right to seek asylum, and other vital benefits for those who seek to call the United States their home. These challenges are grave and deserve attention. However, at the same time, it is equally important to celebrate the many victories that immigrants have achieved — particularly in the area of naturalization and citizenship.
According to data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the United States welcomed 967,500 new citizens in fiscal year (FY) 2022 during naturalization ceremonies held across the United States and around the world. Not only is this a 20% increase from 2021, it is also the highest number of naturalizations seen in 15 years. In August of 2022 alone, over 106,000 people obtained United States citizenship. For most of these new citizens, it is a moment they have been waiting years for. (The average time spent as a legal permanent resident for all new naturalized citizens was over seven years.)
This news represents a positive trend of increased naturalizations over the last five years. With the exception of 2020, which saw hundreds of offices closed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, each year since 2018 has seen a higher number of immigrants naturalized than were the previous year. RIS remains particularly encouraged by the fact that, when it came to naturalizations, USCIS was able to successfully rebound from the initial wave of the pandemic. In 2021, 813,861 people became naturalized citizens of the United States.
This gift of so many new citizens can only add to the rich diversity of the United States. The top five countries of birth for people naturalizing in FY 2022 were Mexico, India, the Philippines, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic – however, these five countries still represented only 34% of the naturalized citizens of FY 2022. Immigrants come to the United States from many countries and many walks of life. The culture, skills, and knowledge that they bring from their homelands can only benefit our nation. In the case of our religious workers, they bring with them the ability to provide crucial religious sacraments and pastoral care to their communities.
The United States has always been a nation of immigrants. While there are certainly still challenges ahead, during this year’s citizenship week, celebrated Sept. 17-23, RIS welcomed and celebrated the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have chosen to make the United States their permanent home, with hopefully many more to come.
If you have questions about whether you or a member of your religious organization are qualified to submit an N-400 application for naturalization, please reach out to your RIS attorney.