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More than 59,000 Indians became US citizens in 2023: Report

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More than 59,000 Indians acquired US citizenship in 2023, the annual progress report for 2023, which was recently released by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), has said.

Representational image (Photo by JUSTIN SULLIVAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)(Getty Images via AFP)

The official reports says nearly 8.7 lakh foreign nationals became US citizens during the fiscal year 2023. Of them, 1.1 lakh Mexicans (12.7% of the total number of new citizens) and 59,100 (6.7%) Indians obtained US citizenship. The report also claimed 35,200 (4 percent) of newly enlisted American citizens were from the Dominican Republic, and 44,800 (5.1 percent) were from the Philippines.

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To obtain US citizenship, a person is needed to fulfil some eligibility requirements laid out in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). One needs to be a lawful permanent resident (LPR) for at least five years, for example.

Most of the people who were given US citizenship in FY 2023 were eligible for naturalisation as they were LPRs for at least 5 years (INA Section 316(a)). Also included were applicants who were eligible for being LPRs for at least 3 years and married to a US citizen for 3 years (INA Section 319(a)). Some applicants were also eligible on the basis of their military service during a certain period of hostilities (INA Section 329).

As per the report, a non-citizen will be eligible for naturalisation only after they spend at least 5 years as a lawful permanent resident. On the other hand, a US citizen’s spouse is required to spend at least three years as a lawful permanent resident.

Naturalisation during the fiscal years 2022 and 2023 comprised almost a quarter of all naturalisations over the past decade, under the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In Fiscal year 2023, the median number of years spent as an LPR for those who were naturalised was seven years.

US visa services are trying to clear a backlog now, after Washington reportedly halted nearly all visa processing worldwide in March 2020 because of the pandemic. In some cases, Indians who applied for visas have had to face wait times for an appointment of over a year. However, in 2023, the delayes fell after a record 1.4 million visas were processed, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India said.

A growing number of Indians have long been chasing American citizenship, including many men from the northern states of Punjab and Haryana, and Gujarat in the west. Most of them seek to shift to America in search of jobs. Some even migrate to the United States illegally.

As many as 96,000 Indians were caught or expelled last year while they tried to cross into the US. The number was up 30,662 in 2021, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It is unclear how many people actually crossed the border.

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