Immigrants who wish to apply for American citizenship have to go through the naturalization process. The naturalization process is a series of steps that an immigrant must take in order to be allowed full American citizenship.
American citizenship entails becoming a full member of American society and giving the individual the right to participate in any activity that an American born citizen can do. As illegal immigration in many aspects runs counter to the spirit of naturalization, the high frequency of success in naturalization should be emphasized to encourage legitimacy in living in the United States. The following are pertinent data related to the American naturalization process:
In 2006, statistics showed that the United States continuously accepts more immigrants as permanent residents than any other country in the world. In 2006, the number of immigrants in America totaled 38 million people.
The number of immigrants who apply for naturalization grows each year. In fact, in 2008, a new record was set: 1,046,539 immigrants underwent the naturalization process and achieved American citizenship. Of all the immigrants within the United States who underwent the naturalization process, the leading countries of origin were Mexico, India, and the Philippines.
All naturalization process forms are checked through United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). American citizenship is harder than ever to gain since the September 11 attacks of 2001. With increased security demands due to terrorist attacks, an individual may have to go to greater lengths to achieve American citizenship.
Since statistics are often delayed in being fully compiled, the most comprehensive breakdown of naturalization statistics comes from the year 2003 and earlier. There were just over seven hundred thousand individuals who went through the naturalization process and received American citizenship in said year. More females were naturalized than men and the largest portion of those naturalized did so through an immediate relative that had already received American citizenship. The other ways individuals were naturalized, in descending order, were family-sponsored preferences, employment preferences, diversity programs, refugee and asylum status, and all other routes to citizenship.
Naturalization, because it involves prior acquisition of a green card, is often a fairly good barometer of legal immigration trends. Nonetheless, sometimes, full citizenship is not realized by an immigrant to the United States, who may be content to only remain a permanent resident or who may fail to reach this goal in light of a criminal offense. While absolute naturalization figures are still vital in their own right, as time goes on, more and more attention must be paid to the relationship between legal naturalization and illegal habitation of American territory.
With immigration to the United States, securing a U.S. Permanent Resident Card is often a sufficient result for foreign nationals. Even forfeiture of their citizenship in the nation from whence they came is a price they are willing to pay in order to be naturalized as an American with full rights and responsibilities. Even so, some people might want to retain their citizenship in one country and also acquire a new set of privileges in another. Some people, in fact, may be a citizen in multiple countries based on whom their parents are and where both the individual and their parents were born.
As the name implies, dual citizenship is the status of those who hold claims to citizenship in two separate nation-states. To be sure, dual citizenship has its drawbacks. Immigration officials, for example, might not let travelers pass if they possess passports from multiple countries, which might seem suspicious. Dual citizens, too, might even have to pay taxes in both jurisdictions. Just the same, there are a few positives to be found in conditions of dual citizenship:
On an emotional or spiritual level, citizenship at home may represent the strong bond that one has with his or her country, and citizenship in a foreign territory may come to be a badge of honor for that person after the hardships of the immigration process. In this way, dual citizenship is an important symbol of one's identity as a worldly individual, and as such, is important to try to preserve.
While dual citizenship may tend to complicate immigration and can result in surrender of one's status as a national in one of the two countries, in cases where a citizen runs into trouble on foreign soil amidst travel, diplomatic representatives of the citizen-state can offer their support and a limited amount of protection from harsh impositions of justice. In other words, this is not full diplomatic immunity, but it may be of substantial relief to some.
As noted, dual citizenship may require compound taxation be paid by the holder, but at the same time, there are benefits of being a citizen that may partially balance out these concerns. Generally, being a national of a nation will yield greater access to Social Security, health care, employability, and property rights.
The pros and cons of dual citizenship are often dependent on which the relationship of the two countries to which a person can claim citizenship. Before one attempts to gain full rights in a foreign jurisdiction through immigration, he or she should consider what exactly he or she might be sacrificing in doing so.