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USCIS: Naturalization Fact Sheet


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6/25/2019

Naturalization Fact Sheet


The United States has a long history of welcoming immigrants from all parts of the world. During the last decade, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) welcomed more than 7.4 million naturalized citizens into the fabric of our nation. In fiscal year 2018, over 757,000 people were naturalized.

Deciding to become a U.S. citizen can be a very important milestone in an immigrant’s life. Individuals must demonstrate a commitment to the unifying principles that bind us as Americans and, in return, will enjoy many of the rights and privileges that are fundamental to U.S. citizenship.

About the Naturalization Process

Individuals age 18 or older seeking to become a citizen of the United States may apply for naturalization by filing an Application for Naturalization, Form N-400. The N-400 application is one of the forms available for online filing. To be eligible for naturalization, an applicant must fulfill certain eligibility requirements set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

These general eligibility requirements specify that the applicant must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age;
  • Be a lawful permanent resident (green card holder);
  • Have resided in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for at least five years;
  • Have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months;
  • Be a person of good moral character;
  • Be able to speak, read, write and understand the English language;
  • Have knowledge of U.S. government and history;
  • Demonstrate attachment to the principles of the Constitution and well disposition to the good order and happiness of the United States; and,
  • Be willing and able to take the Oath of Allegiance.


Special naturalization provisions exempt certain applicants from one or more of the general requirements for naturalization. Spouses of U.S. citizens and members of the military constitute the main categories of individuals who are exempt from some of the general requirements for naturalization.

  • Individuals who apply for naturalization as spouses of U.S. citizens may be eligible do so three years after being admitted as lawful permanent residents, rather than the five years prescribed under the general provisions.
  • Spouses of U.S. citizens stationed abroad may not be required to meet any particular residence or physical presence requirement.
  • Members of the military who served honorably during certain periods of conflict may be eligible for naturalization even though they have not been admitted as lawful permanent residents and even if they are under the age of 18.
  • Members of the military who served honorably for at least one year, at any time, and apply for naturalization within a certain time after their military service, are also exempt from the general residence and physical presence requirements.

All persons filing an Application for Naturalization who have submitted a complete application along with all required documents will be scheduled for an interview with a USCIS officer. Those applicants found qualified are scheduled for an oath ceremony before a judge or an officer delegated the authority by the Director of USCIS to administer the Oath of AllegianceApplicants do not become U.S. citizens until they have taken the Oath.



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Naturalization Statistics[1]

  • Since 2009, USCIS welcomed approximately 620,000 to 780,000 citizens each year during naturalization ceremonies across the United States and around the world.
  • In FY 2018, 73 percent of all naturalized citizens resided in 10 states (in descending order): California, Florida, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
  • In FY 2018, the leading metropolitan areas of residence were New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA (15 percent), Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA (7.8 percent), and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL (7.3 percent).
  • In FY 2018, the top countries of origin for naturalization were in the following descending order:  Mexico, India, Philippines, Cuba, and People’s Republic of China.

The INA also provides for the automatic acquisition of U.S. citizenship or naturalization of children who are under the age of 18.

  • A child under the age of 18, who is a lawful permanent resident residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of a U.S. citizen parent, may automatically acquire U.S. citizenship. To obtain evidence of U.S. citizenship, an Application for Certificate of  Citizenship, Form N-600, must be filed on behalf of the child.
  • A child who is residing abroad and who is temporarily present in the U.S. based on a lawful admission, may be eligible to naturalize while under the age of 18 if he or she has at least one parent who is a citizen of the United States, and if the parent (or qualifying grandparent) meets certain physical presence requirements in the United States throughForm N-600K.
  • There are exemptions benefiting children of active-duty members of the military stationed abroad on their service member parent(s)’ orders in Form N-600K.

For additional information about USCIS and its programs, visit www.uscis.gov..


1] FY18 statistics may be subject to change based upon the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Immigration Statistics.







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4/05/2019

USCIS Reaches FY 2020 H-1B Regular Cap

USCIS has received a sufficient number of petitions projected as needed to reach the congressionally-mandated 65,000 H-1B visa regular cap for fiscal year 2020. USCIS will next determine if we have received a sufficient number of petitions to meet the 20,000 H-1B visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, known as the master’s cap.

The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not prohibited multiple filings (PDF, 119 KB).

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap.  Petitions filed for current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, are exempt from the FY 2020 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. We encourage H-1B applicants to subscribe to the H-1B Cap Season email updates located on the H-1B Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Cap Season page.







4/01/2019

USCIS Launches H-1B Employer Data Hub

USCIS has launched an H-1B Employer Data Hub to provide information to the public on employers petitioning for H-1B workers. The data hub is part of our continued effort to increase transparency in employment-based visa programs by allowing the public to search for H-1B petitioners by fiscal year (back to FY 2009), NAICS code, employer name, city, state, or ZIP code. This will give the public the ability to calculate approval and denial rates and to review which employers are using the H-1B program. Data for individual fiscal years is available to download on the H-1B Employer Data Hub Files page.

To help the public use the data hub and understand the terminology in it, we have also created the Understanding Our H-1B Employer Data Hub page.

We will provide cumulative quarterly updates and annual releases of the data and we anticipate updating the H-1B Employer Data Hub quarterly. For example, data for the first quarter (October-December) of a fiscal year will be provided in April of that fiscal year.

The H-1B program allows employers in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent.







3/19/2019

USCIS Announces FY 2020 H-1B Cap Season Start, Updates, and Changes


Simple, smart changes to make the H-1B visa program work better


WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced the start of the fiscal year (FY) 2020 H-1B cap season, start dates for premium processing of cap-subject H-1B petitions, and the launch of its new H-1B data hub, while reminding petitioners of its new H-1B cap selection process. These new efforts underscore the agency’s commitment to supporting President Trump’s Buy American and Hire American executive order designed to protect U.S. workers.

“USCIS continually strives to improve the administration of the H-1B program and make it work better for employers, our agency, and U.S. workers,” said USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna. “We are also committed to fulfilling the president’s Buy American and Hire American executive order, one of the principal goals of which is to protect the interests of U.S. workers in the administration of our immigration system, in part by promoting the proper functioning of the H-1B visa program. Our new H-1B data hub will make information more accessible to the public, and the new selection process will help make the system more meritorious and better protect the wages of U.S. workers. Additionally, our two-phased approach to premium processing will make the process more effective and efficient for employers and USCIS.”



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Start of FY 2020 Cap Season

USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2020 cap on April 1, 2019, and will reject any FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions filed before April 1. H-1B petitioners must follow all statutory and regulatory requirements as they prepare petitions to avoid delays in processing and possible requests for evidence. Form M-735, Optional Checklist for Form I-129 H-1B Filings (PDF, 262 KB), provides detailed information on how to complete and submit an FY 2020 H-1B petition.

Premium Processing for FY 2020 Cap-Subject Petitions

Premium processing will be offered in a two-phased approach during the FY 2020 cap season so USCIS can best manage the premium processing requests without fully suspending it as in previous years. The first phase will include FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change of status and the second phase will include all other FY 2020 cap-subject petitions.



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Starting April 1, FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitioners requesting a change of status on their Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, may request premium processing by concurrently filing Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service. However, to prioritize data entry for cap-subject H-1B petitions, USCIS will not begin premium processing for these petitions immediately. USCIS will begin premium processing for these petitions no later than May 20, 2019, and will notify the public before premium processing begins for these petitions. If a petitioner does not file Form I-907 concurrently with an FY 2020 H-1B cap-subject petition requesting a change of status, the petitioner must wait until premium processing begins to submit Form I-907. Until premium processing begins for these petitions, USCIS will reject any Form I-907 that is not filed concurrently with a cap-subject Form I-129. Petitioners must appropriately select response “b” for Item 4 in Part 2 of Form I-129 to be eligible to concurrently file Form I-907.

Premium processing for all other FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions will not begin until at least June 2019. Cap-subject petitioners not requesting a change of status may not submit their premium processing request concurrently with their H-1B petition. These petitioners will be eligible to upgrade to premium processing by filing Form I-907 once premium processing begins for this group. USCIS will notify the public with a confirmed date for premium processing for cap-subject petitioners not requesting a change of status.

At this time, premium processing for H-1B petitions that are exempt from the cap, such as extension of stay requests, remains available.



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New H-1B Data Hub

USCIS is also announcing the new H-1B Employer Data Hub that will be available on uscis.gov on April 1. The data hub is part of USCIS’ continued effort to increase the transparency of the H-1B program by allowing the public to search for H-1B petitioners by fiscal year, NAICS industry code, company name, city, state, or zip code. This will give the public the ability to calculate approval and denial rates and to review which employers are using the H-1B program.

New H-1B Cap Selection Process

In January, the Department of Homeland Security announced a final rule amending regulations governing cap-subject H-1B petitions, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption. The final rule reverses the order by which USCIS selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B regular cap and the advanced degree exemption, which will be in effect for the FY 2020 cap season. This simple change increases the chances that more of these visas will be granted to those with an advanced degree from a U.S. institution of higher education.



    
   
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The H-1B program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent. Congress has set a cap of 65,000 H-1B visas per fiscal year. An advanced degree exemption from the H-1B cap is available for 20,000 beneficiaries who have earned a U.S. master’s degree or higher from a U.S.

institution of higher education. The agency will monitor the number of petitions received and notify the public when the H-1B numerical allocations have been met.

For more information on the H-1B cap, and to subscribe to H-1B cap season email updates, visit the H-1B FY 2020 Cap Season page. For current Form I-129 processing times, visit the Check Case Processing Times page.

For more information on USCIS and our programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook (/uscis), and LinkedIn (/uscis).



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3/19/2019

Panama City Marriage Fraud Conspirators Plead Guilty and Sentenced


PANAMA CITY, Fla. – Ravi Babu Kolla, 47, an Indian foreign national residing in Panama City, pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy to commit marriage and visa fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.  On Tuesday, his co-defendant Krystal Cloud, 40, of Altha, Florida, was sentenced to 24 months in prison for marriage and visa fraud conspiracy after pleading guilty on December 28, 2018.  Lawrence Keefe, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, announced the guilty plea and sentence.

Between February 2017 and August 2018, Kolla operated an immigration marriage fraud business in Bay County that recruited U.S. citizens to marry Indian foreign nationals to gain immigration benefits.  The majority of the Indian foreign nationals overstayed their Visas or Student Exchange Visitor Program requirements and were unlawfully residing in the United States.  The investigation identified over 80 fraudulent marriages that were performed in Alabama as part of Kolla’s scheme.

Cloud is a U.S. citizen who participated with Kolla in the marriage fraud business.  After entering a fraudulent marriage in October 2017, she began recruiting U.S. citizens to marry Indian foreign nationals.  Cloud directly recruited or participated in the recruitment of 10 or more U.S. citizens from the Panama City area and rural Calhoun and Jackson Counties.  She also helped gather personal information so Kolla could create fraudulent immigration forms in order for the Indian foreign nationals to remain in the United States.

Kolla is being detained.  The sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 22, 2019, at 11:00 a.m. at the U.S. Courthouse in Tallahassee.

Kolla faces a maximum of 5 years in prison for conspiracy to commit marriage and visa fraud and a maximum of 20 years in prison for money laundering conspiracy.

The case was investigated by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, the Panama City Police Department, the Blountstown Police Department, and the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office (Alabama).  Assistant United States Attorney Corey J. Smith is prosecuting the case.

The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General.  To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website.  For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.












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