The Number of Naturalized Citizens in the US is Increasing

America has always been nation of immigrants, especially now. The number of naturalized citizens in the country increased from 14.4 million in 2005 to 19.8 million in 2015, a 37% increase, according to the Pew Research Center, and many of them live in Kentucky.

The naturalization rates used by Pew show for any given year the percentage of immigrants living in the U.S. and eligible for U.S. citizenship who have gained naturalized citizenship.

Most of the country’s twenty largest immigrant groups saw increases in naturalization from 2005 to 2015. India and Ecuador saw the largest increases.

  • Indian immigrants saw one of the higher naturalization rates (80%), with Ecuadorian immigrants also seeing a big jump (68%).
  • Overall naturalization rates increased from 62% in 2005 to 67% in 2015. Just a few nations didn’t see an increase, including Honduras, China and Cuba.

An immigrant must be 18 years or older to be considered for citizenship, have lived in the country for at least five years as a lawful permanent resident (or three years if he or she has a U.S. citizen spouse) and not have a criminal record. Nearly one million naturalization applications were denied from 2005 to 2015, or 11% of the 8.5 million applications filed during those ten years.

Naturalized citizens make up a large part of the country’s foreign-born population.

  • The 19.8 million naturalized citizens in 2015 were about 44% of the foreign-born population.
  • Another 11.9 million immigrants were lawful permanent residents; an estimated 9.3 million of them were qualified to apply for citizenship.
  • Mexican immigrants are the biggest group of lawful immigrants. About 2.5 million Mexican immigrants held U.S. citizenship, with another 3.5 million eligible to become naturalized citizens.

Mexicans have some of the lowest naturalization rates (42%) of any national group. The Pew Research Center surveyed Mexican immigrants with legal status who chose not to apply for U.S. citizenship. Reasons for not seeking citizenship included poor English language proficiency, lack of interest in becoming a citizen and the cost of the application.

America’s foreign-born population has increased in size and as a portion of the country’s total population since 1970, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

  • Currently most of the country’s foreign-born population is from Latin America and Asia.
  • About a quarter of children under 18 in the U.S. have at least one foreign-born parent.
  • The Census Bureau estimates that from 1850 to 2010 the foreign-born population as a share of the country’s total population has fluctuated from 9.7% in 1850 to 12.9% in 2010.
  • The highest percentage was in 1890, at 14.8% and the lowest was 4.7% in 1970.

Benefits of U.S. citizenship include:

  • Voting rights
  • Travel with a U.S. passport
  • Eligibility for some federal government jobs
  • Avoiding possible future deportation
  • Service on a jury
  • A higher income. Immigrants who become citizens generally have higher incomes than non-citizens.

If you live in Fayette County, Kentucky, or the surrounding area and you have any questions about an immigration matter or need legal representation to help you or a family member become a naturalized citizen, call Carman & Fullerton at 859-971-0060 or fill out this contact form. We can help you whether you speak English, Spanish or another language. Your future and the future o your family are at stake, so contact us today.

Attorney Kirby J. Fullerton

Mr. Fullerton’s practice is focused on immigration law. He speaks Spanish, and represents clients in cases before the immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals. He began his career practicing criminal defense, and understands how matters in criminal courts can affect a client’s immigration status. [Attorney Bio]