The wait for U.S. Citizenship is starting to Backlog
A spike in applications to become U.S. citizens before and after the November 2016 election has created a backlog of over 708,000 pending requests nationwide, which has doubled the wait times for applicants. The typical processing time for U.S. citizenship applicants used to be about 5 to 7 months, however, that has changed. For example, federal data shows the average wait is now 10 months in Los Angeles County. Karla Cortez, who manages citizenship services for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, states,
Slowly, after the election, that has been increasing pretty steadily — where it went from 6 to 7 [months], 7 to 8. And now I was checking as recently as yesterday, and we are at about 10 months.
There are several factors contributing to the delays and one of them is that immigration officials received 971,242 naturalization applications in fiscal year 2016, which is a 24 percent spike over the year before. Pending applications have grown from 399,397 in the third quarter of fiscal year 2015 to 708,638 in the third quarter this year, the most recent data available. Legal service providers claim that applications began spiking prior to the November 2016 election, which they believe was in part due to some legal residents being cautious of the Trump administration’s harsh immigration rhetoric that led them to take steps to protect themselves. Immigrant advocates believe the Trump administration is not dedicating sufficient resources to fix the backlog. Hopefully more resources will be made available so that more applications can be processed so that the backlog will decrease.