Dallas, TX (Law Firm Newswire) May 22, 2012 – A new report on the naturalization of U.S. citizens has been released by the Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The report provides details of citizens naturalized in 2011, including the top countries of origin, and the states that the largest number of immigrants choose as their new home. The year 2011 saw 694,193 people become citizens of the United States through naturalization, the process by which foreign-born citizens gain the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship.
Mexico provided the largest number of new citizens, with 94,783. A total of 45,985 naturalized citizens hailed from India, and 42,520 from the Philippines. California received the greatest number of new citizens, with 151,183. Florida gained 87,309 naturalized citizens, with 76,603 choosing the state of New York.
Generally, to become a naturalized U.S. citizen, foreign-born nationals must meet certain criteria. The prospective citizen must be 18 years of age, be a lawful permanent resident of the United States and have resided in the country continuously for five years. In addition, the candidate must be able to speak, read, and write English, demonstrate basic knowledge of U.S. history and government, and be of good moral character.
Naturalization rates have increased steadily over the decades, from fewer than 120,000 annually throughout the 1950s and 1960s, to the current level of over a half million per year, peaking in 2008 with over 1 million.
Stewart Rabinowitz, a Dallas immigration attorney, applauded the acceptance into citizenship of another wave of American immigrants.
“Naturalization is good for America,” said Rabinowitz. “With 600,000 to 700,000 persons being naturalized annually, we see history repeating itself: people from nearly everywhere on the planet taking the same oath of allegiance to America, an exceptional place that we call home, just as so many other immigrants have done in generations past. And valuing America for what opportunities it provides, and for what America stands for. This is a refreshing theme, one that is all too often buried beneath the nastiness of heated political rhetoric on the subject. People still vote with their feet and choose America.”
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