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U.S. Naturalizations Rise to Highest Level in Decade

Dec 5, 2022

Oath of allegiance
Photo credit: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

After a drop during the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of immigrants choosing to become citizens in the U.S. is increasing, according to a new study.

More than 900,000 immigrants became U.S. citizens during the 2022 fiscal year, the highest number in a decade, according to a Pew Research Center report published Friday.

That annual total is the third-highest on record and the highest since fiscal year 2008, when more than one million immigrants naturalized.

The report analyzed data from the Department of Homeland Security and the Census Bureau from the first three quarters of the year.

The spike in naturalizations coincides with a general rise in immigration and travel to the United States. A different Pew report showed an increase in the number of people receiving green cards and an uptick in the number of tourists, international students, and other types of temporary migrants.

According to the report, the number of naturalizations dropped to 81,000 during the April-June, 2020 period, when the pandemic began, compared to an average of 190,000 naturalizations every three months for the previous eight years.

Despite more immigrants becoming citizens, many are still waiting for the government to approve their naturalization applications. At the end of June 2022, there was a backlog of 673,000 applications, down from more than a million in December 2020, but still more than during the period between 2012 and 2016.

Naturalizations for immigrants from most countries increased by 20% in 2022, except for China. Naturalizations of Chinese citizens were down by 20% from pre-pandemic levels.

Green card holders from Europe and Asia (each 73%) are the most likely to become U.S. citizens, followed by immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa (72%), sub-Saharan Africa (66%), and Latin America (56%). Naturalizations among immigrants from these regions were up by between 15 and 26 percent compared to pre-pandemic averages.

For more info on naturalization, check out Boundless’ latest report on U.S. citizenship trends.

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