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

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

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.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid