This month, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published data on lawful permanent residents (“green card holders”) who may be eligible to apply for citizenship. The data is broken down by country of birth, date, and core-based statistical area (CBSA). The data allows scholars, attorneys, and the public to view how many people across the country or in a given area may be eligible for to apply for citizenship. The data is available on USCIS’s website.
In Virginia, there are over 223,000 people who may be eligible to apply for citizenship. Hampton Roads (located in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC core-based statistical area) is the region with the second-highest number of lawful permanent residents who may be eligible for citizenship: over 21,000 people.
“This data is incredibly helpful for pro bono immigration legal service providers across the country, especially those in underserved areas,” said Nicole Alanko, the Clinic’s Attorney Fellow. “With this data, we can show the need for immigration legal services in our region, as well as plan more outreach with our partners to assist more individuals seeking to apply for US citizenship.”
Later this semester, the Clinic plans to participate in a local citizenship day. More information on the event will be forthcoming and available on the Events page of the Clinic’s blog.
Applying for United States citizenship can be a lengthy and complex process. Applicants for citizenship must go through a highly detailed application process, undergo background checks, and attend an interview at a local USCIS office. This interview includes the English and Civics examinations. Applications for citizenship currently take approximately 15 months to process in Norfolk.
The data was compiled and released as part of the Interagency Strategy for Promoting Naturalization. Following Executive Order No. 14012, the Departments of Homeland Security, Education, Health and Human Services, Sate, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Defense, Justice, Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, and the Social Security Administration established the Naturalization working group. You can read more about the Strategy in their report available on USCIS’s website.
Having lawful permanent residency (a “green card”) for five years is not the only requirement to becoming a United States citizen. Anyone seeking to apply for citizenship should first consult with an attorney regarding whether they qualify.