SEATTLE — Boundless Immigration, a technology company that helps immigrants navigate the green card and naturalization process, today released a new report, The State of New American Citizenship. Based on a rigorous and novel analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other sources, the report makes clear that applying for U.S. citizenship has become far more difficult over the last two years. Further, there are large regional disparities, with wait times far longer in the Southwest and South Florida than in other regions of the country.
The report’s key findings include:
- The national average processing time for a citizenship application has surged over the past two years to over 10 months — double the processing time between 2012 and 2016.
- These processing times are almost sure to keep rising because the government has not kept pace with the volume of incoming applications. After a two-year spike in 2016–2017, the volume of citizenship applications returned to a typical level in 2018 — but the government’s backlog processing efficiency remains at the lowest level in a decade.
- The likelihood that a citizenship application will be denied has risen slightly over the past few years.
- The three metro areas where it is hardest to become a U.S. citizen are Houston, Austin, and Dallas, Texas.
- The three government offices that handle citizenship applications least efficiently are in St. Paul, Minnesota; Miami, Florida; and Houston, Texas, where immigrants face wait times more than four times longer than in other cities.
“My training tells me to look at the data and see what is working and what isn’t,” said Xiao Wang, CEO and co-founder of Boundless Immigration and a former operations and business analyst. “It’s clear that our legal immigration system is becoming far less efficient. The data doesn’t lie — in the last two years, the process is moving more slowly, backlogs are getting longer, and denial rates are going up. This should concern anyone who wants to see immigrants fully integrated into American society.”
Wang made his findings widely available in an op-ed in The Hill:
Melissa Rodgers, Director of Programs at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center and director of the New Americans Campaign, agreed with Wang’s assessment. “The State of New American Citizenship confirms the challenges our campaign partners have experienced across the country. For qualified immigrants who live, work, and raise their families in America, achieving U.S. citizenship is critical to full participation and integration. It is also in our nation’s best economic interest. The fact that our naturalization system is getting slower and more capricious is a cause for great concern.”
Boundless Immigration (https://www.boundless.com) is dedicated to empowering families to navigate the immigration system more confidently, rapidly, and affordably. Established in 2017 by immigration and technology experts — many of whom went through the U.S. immigration process themselves — the company helps thousands of people with their green card and U.S. citizenship applications each month. Boundless has dramatically streamlined these immigration processes by integrating technology with a network of independent immigration attorneys, at a fraction of the cost of a traditional attorney.