It’s no secret that naturalization was put on hold as a result of the pandemic and how badly it affected the ability for the USCIS to hold U.S. citizenship ceremonies. Yet, now that ceremonies have once again commenced and immigration is back up and running, it is worth looking at where the majority of naturalization applicants come from. 

Simply put, what are the current major trends in terms of naturalization and immigrant backgrounds? Which applicants from different origin countries have seen an uptick in terms of naturalization in the past 10 years? And of course where do we see a lack of applications from immigrants who could be eligible for naturalization, but decide not to go forward with the process?

In this blog, we will take a closer look at different groups of immigrants via nationality, and see where immigrants are more likely to apply for naturalization amongst other trends as well.

Background

Naturalization is often considered the last and final step in the immigration process. Once you file an N-400, pay associated fees, go forward with an in person interview, and pass a Civics and English test, you will be ready to take an oath of allegiance to the United States. The applicant must also want to take an oath of allegiance to the United States, which isn’t always the case. The naturalization process has some financial barriers, and can seem like a long and expensive process too. This is perhaps why some groups of immigrants ultimately decide against the citizenship route, or simply don’t feel that strong of an allegiance to the United States to ultimately make the move.

Meanwhile, other groups of immigrants might not feel burdened at all by the process and consider naturalization a major incentive to enjoy other rights and freedoms in the United States. Let’s take a closer look at some of the trends.

Naturalization Trends 

Indeed, it is perhaps not that surprising that Indian nationals have seen one of the biggest upticks in naturalization rates from 2005-2015, and still today represent a major group of immigrants likely to go forward with the process. Indian immigrants in the United States are the biggest group of immigrants awarded H1-B visas, therefore such individuals usually have good jobs when they arrive in the country, and thus at least the financial burden and English proficiency are not issues for going forward with the N-400 application.[1]

In addition, citizens from Peru, Haiti, Vietnam, and the Dominican Republic all saw major upticks from anywhere between 7-9 percentage points in naturalization from 2005-2015. Such country applicants usually leave their home land in pursuit of new economic opportunities in the U.S.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there is a trend in U.S. immigration where Mexican citizens have a much lower likelihood to become naturalized U.S. citizens, even if they are eligible and have lived in the U.S. for five years (and satisfy other admissibility criteria).

The Pew Research center cites that one of the possibilities for this trend has to do with geographic proximity to ones home country. It might not be an option for Indian nationals to so easily travel back home because of the long international flight, but Mexican citizens might not feel the incentive to naturalize if they can travel back to their home country with ease.[2] The Migration policy institute also notes that if you do become a naturalized U.S. citizen, you could lose property in your home country.[3]

Thus in some cases, there has been a net decrease in naturalization rates from some immigrants residing in the U.S., and Mexican immigrants absolutely fit into this category. In addition, residents who were living in the U.S. from Cuba also showed a net decrease in naturalization rates from 2005-2015. Such immigrants live in coastal regions such as Miami, where there is less incentive to naturalize due to the fact that there are already communities of Spanish-speaking immigrants.

Keywords
Naturalization