Since Donald Trump became President in 2016, the number of immigrants applying to become U.S. citizens has greatly increased. While the increase in applicants might suggest the process to become a U.S. citizen might be easier, the opposite is true. Under Trump’s presidency it has become much more difficult to become a U.S. citizen as applicants are facing longer processing times and the vetting process is much more extensive.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the agency responsible for processing applications and the agency has suffered from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The USCIS had to temporarily close field offices due to the coronavirus pandemic, and while they have now reopened with limited capacity restrictions, there is a backlog of applications waiting adjudication, which slows down processing times. In addition to facing a backlog of applications, the agency is also facing a budget crisis which is also causing a slowdown.

Trump’s Immigration Policy

Trump tried to depict himself as favoring immigration when campaigning, but his policies have targeted immigrants. Instead, these policies were designed to keep immigrants out of the United States. From placing bans on worker visas to increasing the restriction of Green Cards, Trump has not only made the process of becoming a U.S. citizen difficult but entering the United States as an immigrant as well.

Naturalization

It has become harder to be naturalized, and the process can take from 8 months to a year to become a citizen from the time of application. However, in populous states, the wait can sometimes exceed over two years. Those eligible for naturalization are people over 18 years old, have been a permanent resident for a minimum of 5 years, or 3 years if they married an U.S. citizen. This delay is because the USCIS is now entering a process of extreme vetting trying to ensure that the applications being approved are not fraudulent.

Denaturalization Section

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the denaturalization section in February 2020 which means there is now a  section specifically dedicated to investigating and revoking citizenship. This section allows the DOJ to strip a person of their citizenship rights.

The denaturalization section aims to hold those who unlawfully gained citizenship accountable for their actions. However, while this section might have been created with good intentions, the concern is that denaturalization proceedings will be initiated against immigrants who have not committed serious or heinous crimes. This also means that immigrants still have to worry about removal  even after they gain U.S. citizenship.

Becoming a U.S. Citizen

While it is more difficult to become a U.S. citizen, it is still possible. There are a number of contributing factors that have made the process more difficult, but it is not impossible. An experienced immigration attorney can help you mitigate these factors and walk you through the application process.

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