2019 saw the highest number of green-holders in the United States take the next step and become Naturalized Citizens in the past 11 years – a whopping 843,593! Currently, once the process is started, it can take up to a year and cost $725.00 in addition to passing the citizenship test and proving good moral character. Once becoming a Naturalized Citizen, the new citizen is accorded the right to vote, the right to remain outside of the United States indefinitely without losing his/her status, and the right to petition for parents and minor children as “immediate relatives”. Naturalized Citizens also have a significant impact on the voter rolls, making up about 10% of those eligible.
In the past, noticeable increases in naturalization applications have increased before changes in fees, the impending passage of new laws, and sometimes, upcoming elections. Filing fees were to increase significantly on October 2, 2020, but the increase was delayed after a lawsuit was filed by immigrant-rights organizations.
As of November 1, 2020 approximately 625,000 green-card holders have become US citizens this year, and the annual total should be lower than in 2019, partly due to immigration offices being shut down for several months during the pandemic.