News / USA

    US Issues 1 Million Green Cards, Naturalizes 757,000 in 2012

    Zoltan Sznorfi, left, originally from Hungary, Benjamin Njoku, center, originally from Nigeria, and Keyan Chen, right, originally from China wait for the naturalization ceremony at historic Federal Hall to start, Friday, March 22, 2013 in New York.
    Zoltan Sznorfi, left, originally from Hungary, Benjamin Njoku, center, originally from Nigeria, and Keyan Chen, right, originally from China wait for the naturalization ceremony at historic Federal Hall to start, Friday, March 22, 2013 in New York.
    Nearly a million people became U.S. citizens last year, and just over a million became legal permanent residents, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

    The data shows the numbers of new “green card” holders and naturalizations, the process of becoming a U.S. citizen, have been fairly steady over the past few years, with a modest bump in naturalizations last year.

    DHS: U.S. Naturalizations 1907-2012DHS: U.S. Naturalizations 1907-2012
    x
    DHS: U.S. Naturalizations 1907-2012
    DHS: U.S. Naturalizations 1907-2012
    Claire Bergeron, a researcher with the Migration Policy Institute, attributes that increase to the 2012 presidential election.

    “There were a lot of outreach efforts leading up to the presidential election to get people to naturalize. A lot of the big ones we saw this year were Latino organizations,” she said. 

    Latino voters, including many new citizens, helped secure President Barack Obama’s re-election and increased the power of his Democratic Party in Congress.

    A total of 757,434 people naturalized in 2012, up from 694,193 the year before. The majority of new citizens were born in Mexico, the Philippines, India, the Dominican Republic and China, according to the data released Friday.

    Naturalizations increased the most among people born in the Dominican Republic and Cuba between 2011 and 2012.

    Vietnam, South Korea, Pakistan, Iran, Nigeria and Somalia were among the top 20 countries of origin.

    Immigration policy experts say the 2012 data is fairly unremarkable, except that it may be a point of reference as immigration trends change in future years if Congress passes immigration reform.

    Growing numbers of lawmakers are calling for a path to citizenship for the estimated 11.5 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. But what type of path, and how long it would take is the subject of intense debate, with new pitches flying through Washington each week.

    Last year, the U.S. granted “green cards” to 1,031,631 foreigners. That lets them live and work permanently anywhere in the U.S. and opens the door to citizenship within five years.

    Mexico, China and India were the leading countries of birth of America’s newest legal permanent residents. People born in Iraq, Burma, Bangladesh and Ethiopia were among the top 20.

    The majority of the green card holders already lived in the U.S. when their status changed. Nearly 66 percent were granted permanent resident status based on a family relationship with a U.S. citizen or another green card holder.

    The system to determine who gets a green card is a complicated process, with preference going to family members and foreigners with needed job skills or who came from countries not well represented in the U.S.

    Some immigration reformers are suggesting a new green card category be created for the undocumented immigrants in the U.S., while others object to what they consider to be an “amnesty” for people who broke the law.

    Erwin DeLeon, an immigration specialist with the Washington-based research group the Urban Institute, says he expects new data trends will emerge in about a decade because of the work Congress is doing now.

    If Congress passes immigration reform this year or next, he says, “by 2020 you’ll see a big spike” in permanent residents and new citizens.

    Bergeron isn’t so sure about the timing, however, since some proposals are suggesting unauthorized immigrants would have to wait as long as 10 years to become legal, with an additional five-year wait to naturalize.

    Persons Naturalized by Region and Country of Birth: Fiscal Years 2010 to 2012:

      2012 2011 2010
      Num. % Num. % Num. %
    REGION Total 757,434 100 694,193 100 619,913 100
    Africa 74,775 9.9 69,738 10 64,022 10.3
    Asia 257,035 33.9 249,940 36 251,598 40.6
    Europe 82,714 10.9 82,209 11.8 78,011 12.6
    North America 261,673 34.5 217,750 31.4 163,836 26.4
    Caribbean 109,762 14.5 79,820 11.5 62,483 10.1
    Central America 40,592 5.4 33,784 4.9 25,706 4.1
    Other North America 111,319 14.7 104,146 15 75,647 12.2
    Oceania 3,886 0.5 3,734 0.5 3,646 0.6
    South America 76,992 10.2 70,485 10.2 58,474 9.4
    Unknown 359 337 326 0.1
     
    COUNTRY Total 757,434 100 694,193 100 619,913 100
    Mexico 102,181 13.5 94,783 13.7 67,062 10.8
    Philippines 44,958 5.9 42,520 6.1 35,465 5.7
    India 42,928 5.7 45,985 6.6 61,142 9.9
    Dominican Republic 33,351 4.4 20,508 3 15,451 2.5
    China, People's Republic 31,868 4.2 32,864 4.7 33,969 5.5
    Cuba 31,244 4.1 21,071 3 14,050 2.3
    Colombia 23,972 3.2 22,693 3.3 18,417 3
    Vietnam 23,490 3.1 20,922 3 19,313 3.1
    Haiti 19,114 2.5 14,191 2 12,291 2
    El Salvador 16,685 2.2 13,834 2 10,343 1.7
    Jamaica 15,531 2.1 14,591 2.1 12,070 1.9
    Korea, South 13,790 1.8 12,664 1.8 11,170 1.8
    Peru 11,814 1.6 10,266 1.5 8,551 1.4
    Pakistan 11,150 1.5 10,655 1.5 11,601 1.9
    Brazil 9,884 1.3 10,251 1.5 8,867 1.4
    Iran 9,627 1.3 9,286 1.3 9,337 1.5
    Ukraine 9,459 1.2 8,489 1.2 7,345 1.2
    Nigeria 9,322 1.2 9,344 1.3 9,126 1.5
    Somalia 9,286 1.2 7,971 1.1 5,728 0.9
    United Kingdom 9,145 1.2 9,246 1.3 8,401 1.4
    All other countries 278,635 36.8 262,059 37.8 240,214 38.7

    Figure rounds to 0.0. Countries ranked by 2012 persons naturalized. Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, N-400 naturalization data for persons aged 18 and over, Fiscal Years 2010 to 2012.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: SALEH from: YEMEN
    March 25, 2013 10:09 AM
    I proud to be an AMERICAN citizen , I believe in the CONSTITUTION and LIBERTY .

    by: Ona Hagreen from: Wisconsin
    March 24, 2013 2:14 PM
    I have a friend in Chicago,who would like a green card,workes as a caregiver,pays taxes,has a SSI card and is very proud to be here,what would she do next.................

    by: saleh awdaly from: yemen
    March 24, 2013 10:56 AM
    Really , in fact I never seen thing clever as than as the U.S. immigration DEPARTMENTS , the DHS , and USCIS , they are PERFECTLY , working , they are SO sensitive , flexible , know , how they choice the fit immigrants to build the STRONG INFRASTRUCTURE OF THE U.S.A ., they provide us with resources , and customers services , in summary they deal with us gently .

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.