In its recently released annual progress report for 2023, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services disclosed that over 59,000 individuals of Indian origin were granted US citizenship during that year. The report sheds light on the ongoing demographic shifts within the United States, showcasing the diverse pool of individuals who choose to make America their new home.
In fiscal year 2023, official reports reveal that around 8.7 lakh foreign nationals obtained US citizenship. Among them, 1.1 lakh were Mexican nationals, comprising 12.7% of the total new citizens, while 59,100 individuals from India acquired US citizenship, accounting for 6.7% of the total.
Furthermore, the reports suggest that 35,200 newly naturalized citizens, representing 4% of the total, originated from the Dominican Republic, while 44,800 individuals, constituting 5.1% of the total, hailed from the Philippines.
In FY 2023, the majority of individuals granted US citizenship met the eligibility requirements outlined in the Immigration and Nationality Act. These requirements include being a lawful permanent resident for at least five years, as specified in INA Section 316(a).
Additionally, applicants who were Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) for a minimum of three years and married to a US citizen for three years, as per INA Section 319(a), were also included in the naturalization process. Furthermore, certain applicants were eligible based on their military service during specific periods of hostilities, as defined in INA Section 329.
As per the reports, non-citizens must spend at least 5 years as lawful permanent residents before being eligible for naturalization, while a US citizen's spouse must spend at least 3 years as an LPR. Naturalizations in FY 2022 and 2023 accounted for nearly a quarter of all naturalizations in the past decade under USCIS. In FY 2023, the median years spent as an LPR for those naturalized was seven.
US visa services are working to clear a backlog after visa processing was largely halted worldwide in March 2020 due to the pandemic. In 2023, delays decreased as a record 1.4 million visas were processed by the US Embassy and Consulates in India.
A significant number of Indians, particularly from Punjab, Haryana, and Gujarat, are pursuing American citizenship, often seeking job opportunities. However, there's also a growing trend of illegal migration, with nearly 42,000 Indian migrants crossing into the US between October 2022 and September 2023, primarily through the southern border with Mexico.
Last year, around 96,000 Indians were either caught or expelled while attempting to cross into the US, marking an increase from 2021, with 41,770 interceptions at the Mexico border and 10 at the Canada border. The exact number of successful border crossings remains unclear.
Image source: ANI