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    Published on 08-11-2016 12:19 PM

    Naturalization Trends in the United States


    A new citizen in Bellevue, Washington shows off
    her certificate following a naturalization ceremony.
    (Photo: City of Bellevue, Washington)

    Naturalization, an important milestone in immigrant integration, extends to foreign nationals the same benefits, rights, and responsibilities that native-born citizens have, including the right to vote. More than 653,000 immigrants naturalized in the United States in fiscal year (FY) 2014, bringing the total number of naturalized U.S. citizens to 20 million, nearly half the overall immigrant population of 42.4 million. Over the past decade, the annual number of naturalizations has ranged from about 537,000 to just more than 1 million, depending on factors including processing times and backlogs as well as the financial constraints and personal motivations of immigrants themselves.

    Becoming a naturalized citizen is contingent upon meeting certain requirements, such as completing a period of lawful permanent residence, demonstrating basic proficiency in English and knowledge of U.S. history and government, and passing the background check. The benefits of naturalization include the right to sponsor immediate family for immigration, greater access to government benefits, and protection from deportation. In addition, immigrants who naturalize often experience substantial economic dividends, such as higher incomes and homeownership.

    This article examines the latest U.S. naturalization data available, including historical trends and socioeconomic characteristics of naturalized citizens. Unless otherwise noted, data on the number and characteristics of foreign nationals who naturalized during FY 2014 are from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS).

    Note: All yearly data on new naturalized citizens are for the federal fiscal year, which runs from October 1 through September 30 of the given year.



    The term "foreign born" refers to people residing in the United States at the time of the census who were not U.S. citizens at birth. The foreign-born population includes naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs), refugees and asylees, legal nonimmigrants (including those on student, work, or certain other temporary visas), and persons residing in the country without authorization.

    We use the terms "immigrants" and "foreign born" interchangeably.


    Click on the bullet points below for more information:

    Historical Trends

    In FY 2014, the most recent year for which data were available at publication, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received 773,824 applications for citizenship and naturalized 653,416 individuals. The number of individuals who naturalized in FY 2014 decreased by 16 percent from FY 2013 (779,929). Although the number of naturalization applications remained relatively stable, the number of pending cases increased substantially: from 307,965 at the end of FY 2013 to 379,790 at the end of FY 2014.


    The Naturalization Process

    Naturalization—the process by which foreign citizens or nationals take the citizenship of their country of residence—is a multistep process that concludes with a naturalization ceremony during which an immigrant takes an oath of allegiance to the United States. To be eligible for naturalization, an immigrant must be at least 18 years old; have lawful permanent residence (LPR status, also known as a green card) for at least five continuous years (three continuous years ...

    Published on 08-11-2016 11:19 AM

    EB-5 Trojan Horse: How an American Pay-for-Citizenship Immigration Program Poses a National Security Threat


    Published on 08-10-2016 02:39 PM

    The Best Argument Against Immigration


    July 29, 2015

    Volumes of research and centuries of experience do not bear out claims that immigrants “take our jobs,” don’t learn English, and fail to assimilate. But the idea that immigrants could vote to upend our relatively free economy has an air of credibility. It is arguably the best argument against liberalizing immigration.

    Although immigrants are a boon to our economy and their children do reliably assimilate, immigrants could kill the goose that lays the golden eggs by undermining our free market institutions. In other words, will they come here, become citizens, and vote socialist, populist, or worse?

    Fortunately, there is little evidence that immigrants make countries less free.

    The United States has the 12th freest economy in the world, but most immigrants are from societies that are markedly less free than ours: the top three immigrant-sending countries in 2013 were China, India, and Mexico, ranked 115th, 110th, and 91st, respectively. If immigrants bring the impoverishing institutions of their homelands with them, the long-run economic impact of immigration could turn negative.

    In a recent academic paper, my coauthors and I compared economic freedom scores with immigrant populations across 100 countries over 21 years. Some countries were majority immigrant while some had virtually none. We found that the larger a country’s immigrant population was in 1990, the more economic freedom increased in the same country by 2011. The immigrant’s country of origin, and whether they came from a poor nation or a rich one, didn’t affect the outcome.

    These results held for the United States federal government but not for state governments. States ...

    Published on 08-10-2016 01:42 PM

    The Mountain Of All Molehills: Any Demands for Immigration Records of Melania Trump by Anyone Other Than Melania Trump Are Way Out of Line and Unlawful!


    Published on 08-10-2016 01:02 PM

    I-9 Compliance and the Gig Workforce


    Of all the I-9 mistakes that can be made, one of the most pervasive is the complete absence of the form itself. If you have 100 employees (hired after November 6, 1986), you better have an I-9 for each one of those folks, or face the potential consequences in the event of an audit. Now if you’ve been diligent in your I-9 responsibilities, you probably have a pretty strict policy – no I-9, no paycheck. In many instances, that rule alone gets the job done.

    But as companies are now keenly aware, the very nature of employment in the United States has been rapidly changing during the past few years – as employers large and small have tightened their belts, refocused their attentions, and ultimately reorganized their labor force.

    As a result, tens of millions of Americans are now involved in some form of sporadic, non-traditional related job, whether it is called freelancing, temping, ubering, etc. In some instances, these individuals are clearly in business for themselves. There are, however, an increasing number of “gigs” which closely resemble traditional employment.

    Which of course raises another potentially sticky I-9 problem for employers today – what if you are misclassifying your employees as independent contractors? What if you are actually a “joint employer” for purposes of completing the I-9?

    The Fissured Workplace

    Last month, David Weil, administrator of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, issued guidance on the notoriously thorny issue of joint employment – an arrangement that the agency sees ...

    Published on 08-09-2016 12:14 PM

    Fact-checking Trump: Is "Record Immigration" Causing Higher Unemployment?


    “We are going to have an immigration system that works, but one that works for the American people,” Donald Trump told the Republican National Convention. “Decades of record immigration have produced lower wages and higher unemployment for our citizens.”

    But the candidate is wrong in two respects. First, the United States has not seen “record” immigration in recent years, and second, higher immigration is not associated with higher unemployment. Immigrants are heralds of growth, not portents of economic disaster. 

    Recent Immigration Is No Record

    The amount of immigration to the United States can be measured in two ways.

    One way is to look at the total number of people receiving permanent residency. By this measure, the highest year for immigration was 1991, with 1.8 million green cards issued. Yet even in absolute terms, Trump is still wrong about "decades of record immigration." Out of the top ten years for total immigration, five occurred since 1990 and five came before 1915.

    But measuring immigration in absolute numbers is misleading. It implies that a million immigrants to China, with a population of 1.4 billion, would have the same effect as a million entering Estonia, with a population of 1.2 million.

    To understand the impact of immigration, you clearly need to control for the size of the destination country.

    Table 1: Top Ten Years for Immigration, Rates vs. Totals (1820 to 2014)

    Source: DHS, “2014 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics.”

    Currently, immigration is five times lower than its record highs. Compared to the overall population, the “record year” of 1991 comes in 45th place. Rather than decades of record immigration, we see decades of below average immigration.

    Indeed, per capita immigration during the current decade is almost 30 percent lower than the historical average, and five times lower than the record rates in the 19th and early ...

    Published on 08-09-2016 11:41 AM

    Civil Penalties Nearly Double for Form I-9 Violations and Significantly Increase for Other Immigration-Related Violations


    Due to the implementation of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (Sec. 701 of Public Law 114-74) (“Inflation Adjustment Act”), higher fines and civil penalties have now gone into effect for assessments that occur on or after August 1, 2016. These higher penalties can be applied to violations that occurred after November 2, 2015, the day the President signed the Act into law.

    The Inflation Adjustment Act will be implemented by multiple federal agencies that have authority to assess civil penalties. The following is a summary, by federal agency, of the penalties covering violations for the unlawful employment of immigrant workers; violations related to Forms I-9; immigration-related discriminatory employment practices; and violations of the H-1B, H-2A and H-2B temporary visa for foreign worker programs. The increases in many categories are substantial. The penalties for Form I-9 paperwork violations are increased by an eye-catching 96 percent.

    Department of Homeland Security fines:

    Department of Homeland Security Fines

    Department of Justice fines:

    Department of Justice Fines

    Published on 08-08-2016 03:23 PM

    Crowdfunding Defined Under Titles II, III and IV


    Kurt: When we look at crowdfunding we're talking about three rules: Title II, Title III and Title IV.

    Title IV, being Reg A+ investment offerings, requires you to register your securities with the SEC, so that's going to bring more responsibility on you.

    Title III involves raising no more than $1 million.

    So my sense is that Title II, Reg D - Rule 506(c) is probably most applicable to EB-5.

    John Leo: I look at crowdfunding as a great platform to supplement traditional fundraising, or vice-versa - traditional fundraising supplementing the crowdfunding platform. I think you get a much broader look and a much broader pool of investors. 

    Based on our experience, Reg D investors make up 20%- 25% of the investors in the EB-5 projects. Reaching those investors through a crowdfunding platform, whether it's an issuer using their own portal or someone else's portal, is a great way to approach the market.

    I don't think you'll fully fund a deal that way. I really don't think you can fund a $10-million or $20-million EB-5 project through just Reg D, but I do think it's part of the solution. I think you'll be able to attract a lot of investors that you normally would not come into contact with.

    Kurt: When we look at Regulation D, Rule 506, we see it's got two elements. Soliciting solely to friends and family is obviously going to be very limited.

    So when we talk about crowdfunding, we start at this very large idea that you can solicit your offering directly to the public; then we need to narrow it down to where it really applies to the EB-5 ...

    Published on 08-08-2016 01:03 PM

    Immigration Consequences of Marijuana Use for Green Card Holders and Non-Immigrants: Don’t Let Your Dreams and Hard Work Go Up in Smoke/Vapor


    Twenty-four states, including California, and the District of Columbia have enacted laws which legalize or decriminalize the use and possession of marijuana in some form for medicinal purposes.  Four of these states (Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska) and the District of Columbia have even legalized marijuana for recreational use.  Yet, the U.S. federal government regulates marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”), Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970.  The CSA prohibits the manufacture, importation, possession, use, and distribution of marijuana and certain narcotics, stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, anabolic steroids, and other chemicals.  The U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) has reaffirmed its position of enforcing the CSA, despite enactment of these state marijuana laws.  It is thus important to understand that state laws authorizing the use or possession of marijuana, even if used for medicinal purposes, do not change the fact that using marijuana continues to be an offense under federal law.

    The confusion caused by this conflict of laws is substantial, especially as it relates to U.S. immigration status.  Here are ten things lawful permanent residents (green card holders) and non-immigrants should know before smoking and/or ingesting marijuana.

    1. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1990, as amended (“INA”), states that any ...
    Published on 08-08-2016 11:37 AM

    The United States Can’t Afford a Broken Immigration System


    International students and professionals are critical to the strength and well-being of communities across the entire United States, yet their impact is too often overlooked or taken for granted. By delaying meaningful immigration reform, we risk losing the valuable contributions made by these immigrants.

    Our Healthcare System Relies on Foreign-Born Professionals

    Our healthcare system relies on foreign-born workers, and the demand for medical professionals from outside our borders will only increase. Currently, twenty five percent of physicians and surgeons working in the United States–plus comparable portions of other healthcare positions–were born elsewhere.

    As the baby boomer population ages, they will increasingly need more medical care. In addition, their retirements will create a deficit of doctors, surgeons, nurses, health aids, dentists, pharmacists, and clinical techs. As a result, the ability to provide healthcare will be significantly strained, furthering a need for immigrant healthcare professionals.

    America also needs more primary care physicians and doctors willing to work in rural areas. U.S.-born doctors tend to gravitate to higher paying specialties as opposed to primary care, and also favor urban areas. As the country continues to diversify, we have a growing need for physicians ...

    Published on 08-05-2016 12:48 PM

    Trump vs. Outstanding Immigrant Khizr Khan


    It is poetic justice that Khizr Khan, a Muslim and an immigrant, has been able to take on Trump and trounce him. Trump has derided both Muslims and immigrants with the objective of pandering to his base of white male voters.  After Mr. Khan’s strong repudiation of Trump, he is no longer looking as invincible as he did before.

    Mr. Khan, and his wife Ghazala Khan, are the parents of Captain Humayun Khan who was killed in combat in Iraq in 2004. After ordering his subordinates away from a suspicious vehicle, Captain Khan bravely ran forward 10–15 steps and was killed by a suicide car bomber. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart, and is buried ...

    Published on 08-05-2016 11:57 AM

    How Immigration Restrictions Are like Occupational Licensing


    Conservatives across the country, from—Michigan to Arizona—are challenging burdensome occupational licenses. “Insiders use the false cover of consumer protection to get laws enacted that keep out new competitors,” Minnesota Republican state Senator Chris Gerlach recently said, explaining his reform bill.

    Visa restrictions are an obvious place to start deregulating labor markets.While a welcome development, conservatives should extend this logic to an even more pervasive form of anti-consumer protectionism: work visa restrictions.

    Work visas are licenses for foreign workers and entrepreneurs to practice their professions in the United States. And just as other occupational licenses artificially inflate prices for consumers, arbitrary visa quotas prevent consumers from accessing services that immigrants would provide. It’s protectionism, and it harms Americans every bit as much as unnecessary occupational licensing.

    Barriers to entry for foreign workers hurt American consumers and businesses.Yet even while the new Republican Party platform calls “excessive licensing requirements” a “structural impediment which progressives throw in the path of poor people,” it claims that it is “indefensible” that the U.S. government allows a million immigrants to live and work in the United States each year.

    The two positions are at odds. Occupational licenses limit the choices of American consumers in a few industries, while visa restrictions do so in every industry.

    Indeed, the research on ...

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