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Migration: Over 65,000 Indians embraced US citizenship in 2022

Migration: Over 65,000 Indians embraced US citizenship in 2022

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: Ever since the migration of humans began from Africa some 75,000 years ago worldwide, hardly any country can claim to be composed of only “natives.” Early immigrants became “settlers” while latecomers became unwelcome “immigrants” in many places.

The United States of America (USA) is no exception. Its “natives”, the Red Indians, are now in a microscopic minority, while immigrants from across the world over now compose the world’s most powerful nation, yet.

Its almost unbridled democracy and the growth opportunities it offers have made the USA the modern El Dorado, replacing the UK as the world superpower a century ago.

That explains why so many Indians, and other nationalities, would do whatever it takes to somehow gatecrash and get the coveted Green Card, and citizenship, in America. Nearly 3 million Indian-Americans are now among the most powerful community there.

Altogether 65,960 Indians officially became US citizens in 2022, making India the second-largest source country for new citizens in America after Mexico, according to the latest Congressional report.

An estimated 46 million foreign-born persons resided in the United States in 2022, making up 14 percent of the total US population of 333 million, according to American Community Survey data from the US Census Bureau, the media reported on Monday.

Of these, 24.5 million, about 53 percent, reported their status as naturalized citizens.

In its latest “US Naturalisation Policy” report of April 15, the independent Congressional Research Service (CRS) said, that in the fiscal year 2022, a total of 969,380 individuals became naturalized US citizens.
“Individuals born in Mexico represented the largest number of naturalizations, followed by persons from India, Philippines, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic,” it said.

Based on the latest available data, CRS said, that in 2022, as many as 128,878, Mexican nationals became American citizens. They were followed by Indians (65,960), Filipinos (53,413), Cubans (46,913), the Dominican Republicans (34,525), Vietnamese (33,246), and the Chinese (27,038).

According to CRS, as of 2023, a total of 2,831,330 foreign-born American nationals were from India, which is the second largest number after Mexico’s 10,638,429, followed by China (2,225,447).

However, 42 percent of the India-born foreign nationals currently living in the US are ineligible to become US citizens, the CRS report said.

As of 2023, around 290,000 India-born foreign nationals who were on Green Cards or Legal Permanent Residency (LPR) were potentially eligible for naturalization. In recent years, some observers have expressed concern over the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processing backlogs for naturalization applications.

Although there is a backlog of naturalization applications since FY2020 the agency has reduced the number of applications pending completion by more than half. As of the end of FY2023, USCIS had approximately 408,000 pending naturalization applications, down from 550,000 in FY2022; 840,000 in FY2021, and 943,000 at the end of FY2020.

In FY2023, 823,702 LPRs submitted naturalization applications. The number of individuals who have recently applied for citizenship remains well below the estimated population of 9 million LPRs who were eligible to naturalize in 2023.

The percentage of foreign-born individuals who are naturalized varies by several factors, including their country of origin.

Immigrants from Honduras, Guatemala, Venezuela, Mexico, El Salvador, and Brazil have the lowest percentages of naturalized foreign-born, while those from Vietnam, the Philippines, Russia, Jamaica, and Pakistan have the highest.

To be eligible for naturalization, an applicant must fulfill certain eligibility requirements outlined in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The requirements generally include being a lawful permanent resident (LPR) for at least five years.


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