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US Immigration

Posted 8/17/2008

Shorter Naturalization Wait

The waiting time to become a naturalized U.S. citizen is projected to shorten by the end of September 2008.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on August 11, 2008 that it anticipates to reduce the processing period for naturalization cases from the previous average processing time of 16 to 18 months to an average of 10 to12 months nationally. It expects to continually reduce it further to five months by next year.
This streamlining is in response to the effort to ease the backlogs in the naturalization applications which resulted from the surge of applications prior to the increase in naturalization fees in July last year.
Last fiscal year, the USCIS received 1.4 million naturalization applications. This was nearly double the previous year’s 730,000 applications which was the normal annual volume of applications.
According to the Department of Homeland Security report, the leading countries with the largest number of naturalizations were Mexico (122,258), India (46,871), Philippines (38,830), China (33,134) and Vietnam (27,921). The highest concentration of these applicants resided in California (181,684), New York (73,676) and Florida (54,563).

Because of the uneven distribution of naturalization applicants across the country, the processing times may vary among USCIS field offices.

On the average, the shortest processing time of five months is projected for the following USCIS field offices: Agana, Guam; Anchorage, Alaska; Mount Laurel, New Jersey; Detroit, Michigan; Harlingen, Texas; Indianapolis, Indiana; Reno, Nevada; Sacramento, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Antonio, Texas; San Diego, California; Spokane, Washington; West Palm Beach, Florida; Yakima, Washington; Honolulu, Hawaii and Chicago, Illinois.

The longest processing times are projected for Charlotte, North Carolina - 14.9 months; New Orleans, Louisiana - 14.5 months; Hartford, Connecticut -14.3 months; and Charleston, South Carolina -14.1 months.

The average processing time for New York applicants will be 10 months. For Orlando, Florida, it will be 9.5 months. Naturalization applicants in Newark, New Jersey will wait for an average of 7.4 months. Those in San Francisco, California will wait for five months while those based in Los Angeles, California will wait for 12.5 months.

The USCIS expects to complete processing of more than one million naturalization applications by the end of the fiscal year.

Clearly, a lot of residents have recognized the benefits of U.S. citizenship in light of the upcoming presidential elections and out of a sense of civic duty to participate in the democratic process. The influx of naturalization applications has been met by the USCIS with efforts to streamline and speed up the process by increased hiring, expanded work hours and review and reallocation of resources among the local offices in order to achieve its ultimate goal of reducing the naturalization processing time to five months in the coming fiscal year.

has been practicing law for over 30 years and is included in the Marquis Who’s Who in American Law. A former law editor and professor, he is also the author of a book on immigrant experiences. He has spoken in international and national conventions and has been interviewed on radio and television, including the ABC Nightly News. He has participated in meetings with White House staff and the Immigration Commissioner to discuss immigration reforms. For his community service and advocacy, he has received numerous awards in the U.S. and abroad. For more information, you may log on to his website at or call (212) 695-5281
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