India emerges as the second largest source of new US citizens

According to Congress’s latest report on U.S. naturalization trends, India has become the second-largest source country for new U.S. citizens. In fiscal year 2022, 65,960 Indians were officially naturalized as US citizens, behind only Mexico.

The report from the independent Congressional Research Service (CRS) highlights the significant contribution of Indian immigrants to the fabric of American society and the country’s growing diversity. With an estimated 46 million foreign-born individuals living in the U.S. in 2022, representing approximately 14% of the total population, naturalization remains a critical aspect of U.S. immigration policy.

The CRS data shows that in fiscal year 2022, 969,380 individuals from around the world obtained U.S. citizenship through naturalization. While Mexican nationals topped the list with 128,878 new citizens, Indians came in a close second, followed by the Philippines (53,413), Cuba (46,913) and the Dominican Republic (34,525).

Furthermore, the Indian-born population in the US is a significant 2,831,330 in 2023, second only to Mexico’s 10,638,429 foreign-born residents. This underlines the substantial presence and impact of the Indian diaspora in the United States.

However, the report also highlights that approximately 42% of Indian-born foreigners living in the US are currently ineligible to become US citizens. As of 2023, approximately 290,000 Indian green card holders or Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) were potentially eligible for naturalization.

The CRS report delves into the broader issue of processing naturalization application backlogs at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Although the agency has made significant progress in reducing the backlog, with pending applications falling from 943,000 in fiscal year 2020 to approximately 408,000 in fiscal year 2023, concerns remain about efficient processing.

The report further notes that 823,702 LPRs filed naturalization applications in fiscal year 2023, a figure well below the estimated 9 million LPRs who became eligible for citizenship in the same year. The percentage of foreign-born individuals who naturalize varies considerably depending on factors such as country of origin, with immigrants from Honduras, Guatemala, Venezuela, Mexico, El Salvador and Brazil showing the lowest rates. At the same time, people from Vietnam, the Philippines, Russia, Jamaica and Pakistan have the highest naturalization rates.

To qualify for naturalization, applicants must meet specific eligibility requirements set out in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), including having been a lawful permanent resident for at least five years.

As the United States continues to grapple with complex immigration debates and policies, the CRS report sheds light on the critical role of naturalization in shaping the country’s demographic landscape. The wave of Indian-Americans gaining citizenship not only underscores the vibrant Indian diaspora, but also highlights the enduring appeal of the American dream for immigrants seeking a new home and identity.

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