Congressional Research Service has a new report on naturalization

The Congressional Research Service has just issued a report on US naturalization policy and statistics. It includes some tables and graphs you may find interesting. Here are some highlights:

On recent naturalization totals:

  • In FY2022 (most recent available data), 969,380 individuals became naturalized U.S. citizens.

On the demographics of immigrants who are naturalizing:

  • Since the 1980s, Asia and North America (which includes Mexico and Central America) have consistently represented the largest proportions of persons naturalizing by region of birth.
  • In FY2022, individuals born in Mexico represented the largest number of naturalizations, followed by persons from India, Philippines, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic.

On the average number of years they stayed in LPR status before becoming citizens:

  • People who naturalized in FY2022 spent a median of seven years in LPR status before becoming citizens.
  • Naturalized foreign-born from North America and Oceania had the highest median number of years (10) in LPR status
  • Those from Africa and Asia had the lowest [number of years in LPR status].

On the share of the foreign-born population they represent:

  • Of the estimated 46 million foreign-born persons resided in the United States in 2022, (approximately 14% of the total U.S. population), 24.5 million (about 53%) reported their status as naturalized citizens.
  • An additional estimated nine million LPRs [20%] were eligible to naturalize but had not done so.

On rates of naturalization by country of origin:

  • Among the 25 national origin groups with the largest U.S. populations, foreign-born individuals from Honduras, Guatemala, Venezuela, Mexico, El Salvador, and Brazil have the lowest naturalized percentages (less than 40% naturalized). [By way of explanation:] Individuals born in Latin America and the Caribbean represent an estimated 79% of the total unauthorized population in the United States.
  • Foreign-born individuals from countries including Vietnam, the Philippines, and Russia all have naturalization rates exceeding 70%. [By way of explanation:] Countries whose immigrants show relatively high naturalization proportions tend to be characterized by large geographic distance from the United States, less democratic or more oppressive political systems, and/or geopolitical factors and calamities that initiate flows of refugees and asylees.
  • By country of origin, Mexican nationals represent by far the largest number of LPRs who meet the five-year residency requirement and who are potentially eligible for naturalization (2.39 million in 2023). However, because many others lack LPR status, a relatively large proportion of Mexican nationals (42%) are ineligible for naturalization.
  • Other national groups with large numbers of LPRs potentially eligible for naturalization (more than 300,000 people) include China, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and the Philippines.
  • National groups with the highest percentage of potentially eligible LPRs (greater than 25%) relative to their total foreign-born populations include Japan, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
  • National groups with the highest percentages of persons who are ineligible for naturalization (greater than 40%) include Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, and India.

On processing times and the backlog:

  • In 2022, USCIS announced new internal “time cycle goals” for completing cases, including a six-month processing completion goal for Form N-400.
  • USCIS adjudicated more than 1 million naturalization applications in FY2022 and approximately 976,000 application in FY2023.
  • The number of pending N-400 applications declined to 408,034 by the end of FY2023.
  • In FY2021, the median processing time for the N-400 was 11.5 months. By January 31, 2024, the median processing time had declined to 5.2 months.

On the application fee:

  • A 2018 experimental study (by the National Academy of Sciences) found that offering fee vouchers for N-400 application costs to low-income immigrants eligible for citizenship increased naturalization application rates by 41%.