India Posts Biggest Increase in Immigrants Getting U.S. Citizenship

By 2015, 80 per cent of eligible immigrants from India opted for naturalization, according to a Pew study.


India and Ecuador posted the biggest increases among origin countries for eligible immigrants choosing to become American citizens between 2005 and 2015, a study conducted by Pew Research Center showed.

The total number of naturalized immigrants in the United States increased from 14.4 million in 2005 to 19.8 million in 2015, marking a 37 per cent increase. Among the 20 largest immigrant groups in the United States that were surveyed, the rate of naturalization in India and Ecuador was the highest, with as many as 80 per cent of Indian immigrants eligible for U.S. citizenship getting naturalized in 2015, as compared to 68 per cent in 2005.

The corresponding figures for Ecuador were 68 per cent of immigrants eligible for U.S. citizenship getting naturalized in 2015 as against 55 per cent in 2005. Both India and Ecuador registered a change of 12 points, followed by Peru and Haiti, which recorded a change of 9 points. Vietnam, Dominican Republic, Poland and Jamaica recorded a change of 7 points each.

“By 2015, eligible immigrants from India had one of the higher naturalization rates (80 per cent) due to a 12-percentage-point increase in its naturalization rate since 2005. Only eligible immigrants from Ecuador (68 per cent in 2015) had as large an increase,” the PEW Research Center said in a statement.

Only a handful of nations did not have increases. The naturalization rates among eligible immigrants from Honduras, China and Cuba declined or remained largely unchanged from 2005 to 2015.

According to the study, the U.S. government denied nearly 1 million naturalization applications from 2005 to 2015, or 11 per cent of the 8.5 million applications filed during this time.

“The roughly 19.8 million naturalized citizens in 2015 made up about 44 per cent of the United States’ foreign-born population. Another roughly 11.9 million immigrants were lawful permanent residents, among whom an estimated 9.3 million were eligible to apply for US citizenship,” said the statement.

Mexican immigrants are the largest group of lawful immigrants: About 2.5 million Mexican immigrants held U.S. citizenship and another 3.5 million were eligible for naturalization.

The findings of the same study published in September last year said that a record 20 million Asian Americans trace their roots to more than 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. “The U.S. Asian population grew 72 per cent between 2000 and 2015, from 11.9 million to 20.4 million, the fastest growth rate of any major racial or ethnic group,” the statement revealed.

The largest groups are of Chinese, Indian and Filipino origin. Indian-origin Asians accounted for 20 per cent of the national Asian population or four million, while China is close to five million and Filipino is 3.9 million.

The study also revealed that Indians have the highest level of educational attainment among Asian Americans, with 72 per cent holding a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2015.

Benefits of being a citizen of the United States include being able to vote in most elections, travel with a U.S. passport, eligibility for some federal government jobs, protection from deportation and participation in a jury. In addition, research shows that immigrants who become U.S. citizens have higher incomes than those who do not.

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