Bastarrika, Soto, Gonzalez & Somohano, L.L.P.

Backlog of immigration applications for prospective citizens

The wait time to hear back on a citizenship application can vary. As of the end of 2017, there were 725,000 people waiting to become U.S. citizens, including over 30,896 in New Jersey. Many people are taking a second look at the current immigration process to understand the reasons behind this backlog.

The majority of people with pending citizenship applications in New Jersey are legal residents with green cards looking to become permanent residents. One study found that the processing of these application can take up to 20 months. According to the most recent data, New Jersey has the fifth highest number of pending applications. 

Across the country, there was an 88 percent increase in pending applications in 2017 compared to 2015. Immigration advocates say this is reflective of an increase in green card holders looking to become citizens in response to potential policy changes regarding immigration. Although often backlogs are due to systematic delays, in this case it is mainly due to an increase in applications and demand.

Along with New Jersey, California, Texas, New York and Florida round out the top five states with the most pending applications for citizenship. Legal residents can apply for citizenship after five years of holding a green card and living in the United States. The cost of the Application for Naturalization is $730. They must also pass a background test and an exam on U.S. history, government and English. Those who are looking for immigration support and have legal questions should contact a lawyer for advice related to their particular situation.

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