Will 2016 see lots of U.S. naturalization applications?

One of the options some permanent residents have is to pursue becoming a U.S. citizen. Recent statistics raise the possibility that there could be quite a few immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship this year.

Reportedly, in the front end (October 2015 to January 2016) of the 2016 fiscal year, there were 249,609 U.S. naturalization applications submitted. As compared to the application total for this period in 2015’s fiscal year, this is a 13 percent increase. It also exceeds the application total this period had in the most recent previous fiscal year that was right before a presidential election (the 2012 fiscal year).

Some point to this year’s presidential election as being a contributor to this early increase in naturalization applications. The period before a presidential election sometimes sees a spike in such applications. A desire to be able to vote is one of the things that can drive a permanent resident to apply for citizenship.

Of course, there are a wide range of things beyond there being an upcoming election that can have impacts on naturalization application volume. Among these things are immigration law/rule/policy changes. For example, future increases to naturalization-related fees being announced can have the potential to lead to a naturalization application increase. A particularly large spike in such applications occurred in fiscal year 2007, a year in which there was a naturalization application fee increase.

As a note, just this month, a possible future naturalization fee increase was announced.

One wonders how, by its end, fiscal year 2016 will compare to other years when it comes to naturalization applications. It will be especially interesting to see what the March and April numbers reveal when they become available, as these months have seen particularly high application levels in past years. Do you think 2016’s fiscal year will continue to see relatively high numbers of applications for U.S. citizenship?

As this discussion illustrates, many different things could be behind a permanent resident’s decision to submit a naturalization application. Whatever a permanent resident’s personal reasons for applying for U.S. citizenship are, what happens during the naturalization application process can have considerable long-term effects for them. Experienced immigration lawyers can advise permanent residents pursuing U.S. citizenship throughout the various stages of this process.

Source: Pew Research Center, “Immigrant naturalization applications up since October, but past years saw larger increases,” Jens Manuel Krogstad, May 13, 2016