PHOTO BY: Pew Research Center

Washington, DC – Immigrants from India along with those from Ecuador, topped the list of groups opting for the naturalization process to become United States citizens, according to Pew Research Center estimates of immigrants eligible for US citizenship.

The trend was evident for most of the 20 largest immigrant groups as the study noted an increase in naturalization rates between 2005 and 2015. During this period, the total number of naturalized immigrants in the US increased from 14.4 million in 2005 to 19.8 million in 2015, a 37% increase.

By 2015, eligible immigrants from India had one of the higher naturalization rates (80%) due to a 12-percentage-point increase in its naturalization rate since 2005. Only eligible immigrants from Ecuador (68% in 2015) had as large an increase.

The study found this as the “a bigger increase than for US immigrants overall, among whom naturalization rates jumped from 62% in 2005 to 67% in 2015.” Pakistan didn’t figure in the list of countries, while the naturalization rates among eligible immigrants China declined from 2005 to 2015. It must be noted that naturalization is not a guaranteed process and the US government denied nearly 1 million naturalization applications from 2005 to 2015, or 11% of the 8.5 million applications filed during this time.

To be eligible for US citizenship, immigrants must be age 18 or older, have resided in the US for at least five years as lawful permanent residents (or three years for those married to a US citizen), and be in good standing with the law, among other requirements. The multi-step process to obtain US citizenship begins with submitting an application and paying a $725 fee, including an $85 biometric fee. It culminates with an oath of allegiance to the United States. Current processing times range from seven months to a year.

Benefits of US citizenship include being able to vote in most elections, travel with a US passport, apply for some federal government jobs, receive protection from deportation, and participate in a jury, among other things. In addition, research shows immigrants who become US citizens have higher incomes than those who do not.


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