Mary-Jane E. Maryland

Becoming a citizen is insanely difficult

Becoming a U.S. Citizen shouldn't be so difficult, but it is due to the lengthy wait time, monetary and personal cost, and the fact that most immigrants do not have an immediate relative that is a U.S. citizen.

Dear Next President,

Do you have the right to vote? Have you never lived in fear of being deported? Are you a U.S. passport holder? Immigrants that are not U.S. citizens don’t have the right to vote. They live in fear of being deported. They are not U.S. passport holders. Why don’t they just sign up for citizenship? Most have tried and are still in the process; some have been in the process for 10 years. Becoming a U.S. citizen is just so challenging. It should not be so difficult for immigrants to become U.S. citizens, but it is hard due to the lengthy time it takes, monetary and personal cost, and the fact that most immigrants do not have an immediate relative that is a U.S. citizen.

A lengthy wait time is one of the many factors that causes becoming a U.S. citizen to be so challenging. Harlan York claims that there are 5 factors that causes the long wait time in the immigration process: family quotas, too many deportation cases with not enough judges, employment quotas, background checks, and the system’s inherent flaws. With employment quotas there is a maximum amount of skilled workers allowed from any given year (York). After the maximum number is reached “all the remaining applicants are put on waiting list for the following fiscal year”(Edward Boreth). According to Edward Boreth for “many years, the number of applicants has far exceeded the quota, creating waiting lists that are years long.” This means that immigrants waiting on the list may already have an approved employment or family based petition, but they still have to wait for immigrant visas to becomes available for them. Harlan York also points out that background checks is another factor to the challenge. Even though the process has become “much more advanced (and quicker)” it’s still a struggle because “certain checks take an extraordinarily long time,” which could be due to the immigrant having a common last name from their home country (York). Undoubtedly the rest of the factors just continue to load onto the truck called the struggle when it comes to becoming a U.S. citizen.

The monetary and personal cost for the process to becoming a US citizen is extremely upscale. The fees run into the thousands! Before you can become a citizen you have to: obtain a visa which according to Michael Pruser can range between “$799-$1880, depending on the reason for the requested visa,” and get your green card which costs up to $2,485. Pruser writes that “in addition, many immigrants hire an immigration attorney to ensure all forms are filled out properly and to aid in all aspects of the process.” Most immigration lawyers charge between $5,000 to $7,500 to help a client through the green card process. Some cases can cost closer to $15,000 before adding on application fees and potential family members. Romy Ribitzky adds that “the real cost is harder to quantify”. Applicants can spend years haunted by a feeling of lost opportunity and helplessness as they wait for the process to finally end. Furthermore, if we add up all the different fees required to come to the U.S. and obtain citizenship , the total amount adds up to be between $4,000 to $11,000 which just proves that the cost of becoming a U.S. citizen is indeed extravagant.

Having an immediate relative that is a citizen in the U.S. is a huge advantage that many immigrants do not have. As an immigrant trying to become a U.S. citizen, the factor of not having an immediate relative that is a U.S. citizen just makes the process harder. When you have an immediate relative that is a U.S. citizen the process becomes slightly easier because that relative can sponsor you for a green card. But many immigrants don’t have an immediate relative to sponsor them, which in result causes the process of becoming a citizen to be longer and more expensive. Since the U.S. immigration laws are designed partly to unite family members, an immigrant can obtain a legal status in this nation “through a spouse, sibling, or other family member,” (All Law) which all sounds good, but not for the immigrants that don’t have any of those. It’s easier if you have an immediate relative because this nation’s immigration law allows citizens to petition for certain relatives to come and live permanently in this country. According to the official website of the Department of Homeland Security, “immediate relatives have special immigration priority and do not have to wait in line for a visa number to become available for them to immigrate because there are an unlimited number of visas for their particular categories.” Already it is unquestionable that the lengthy wait time that it would take immigrants without an immediate relative that is a citizen of the U.S. is undoubtedly five times longer than it would take for an immigrant with that immediate relative. In fact, the statement on the website proves that not having an immediate relative that is a citizen in the U.S. is a factor that causes becoming a U.S. citizen more difficult for immigrants.

Becoming a U.S. citizen shouldn’t be so exhaustively time and money consuming, but it is due to many factors given to immigrants. A numerous amount of immigrants trying to become a citizen have a long way to go when they’ve already been through so much. The amount of time and money this process takes is exasperating and the fact that most have no immediate family, that is a U.S. citizen, that can help them just makes things more difficult. Most immigrants that have been in the process of becoming a citizen for years still answer no to most of the questions asked.