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So why don't many US immigrants seek citizenship?

david7wk 6 Jan 22

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Many do, but it is not a simple process. This can take a long time and quite a bit of money.. I register voters at immigration ceremonies.

The process to obtain my Citizenship lasted four months from application to the ceremony. The test was two questions and I paid less than $250.00. I remember -after the ceremony- going to the US Passport Office in White Plains and applying for one. Everybody in that office congratulated me.

@DUCHESSA -- All cases are dealt with differently depending upon country of origin, age, education, financial status, and so forth. Some of these cases can run into the thousands of dollars with no results to show for it. Others, like my youngest daughter, are very inexpensive and simple. She got her citizenship on the same day as her residence was approved. On the other hand, I applied for my son in 1991. His initial filing was approved by immigration in 2004 and forwarded to the State Department where they remain to this day. Total process to date has cost a little over $8000.

@evidentialist I know each case is a different world....I am helping people to fill up the paperwork for more than 20 years....but to say the federal employees were scratching their b...s is an stretch.

Yes, education, background, finances, personal records.....everything has an impact on the process.....but while at the time of my process (1986) I already had a Masters, a good job and everything girlfriend (2016) barely has a grammar school diploma, lives from SS and only has 9 years in the country.

Your son's case must be a special one.

Question: Do you offer them the possibility of registering as voters or you tell them they must register?

@DUCHESSA -- My son's case is not a special one. In my experience and research on the matter, we are but one of thousands of similar cases that have somehow slipped through the cracks, and please don't try to tell me that doesn't happen because I know better.

@evidentialist Sure, sometimes the paperwork GETS LOST....but so many years to get the citizenship is rare.

We register them right there, if they want. They fill out the form, we answer their questions. If they are in a big hurry we direct them to online registration.

@DUCHESSA -- You didn't read my comment accurately. My son's papers were approved by Immigration, then sent to the Department of State where they have been ever since. I said nothing about citizenship.

@GeorgeRocheleau As long as they don't feel obligate

We point out to them that to register to vote we need the number off their certificate. If they are applying for a passport (many do) they will have to surrender the certificate until the passport is granted, so they may be unable to register for a couple of months. Since it only takes a couple of minutes and we are right there, might as well.


@david7wk -- Do you mean seek citizenship or do you mean seek legal immigration which can be followed with seeking citizenship?

The thing is to become a citizen is not mandatory. I became one after five years as a Resident Alien....and my sister obtained hers after 25 years in the country....

@DUCHESSA -- I'm aware of that. I've been working my way through immigration processes for the past 30 years with my family members. I've had both good and bad results in all this. I want him to clarify what he meant. Legal residence followed by citizenship or citizenship from the start. His question is a little vague.

Probably is talking about seeking Legal Immigration status (green card) which, indeed, could take up to many years....but the Citizenship is a lot shorter and is not mandatory to become one.

@evidentialist Citizenship from the start is not possible unless one of the parents is one (native /. naturalizes) and the kid was born overseas for work or other reasons....and the process is a lot shorter. The applicant must be a legal resident at least five years (three if married to a citizen) before qualifying. My sister decided to become an USA Citizen 25 years after holding her green card....and she decided to become one because I had already mine.

@DUCHESSA -- You apparently don't understand me well. I just told you I've been in this process for family members for 30 years. Why are you telling me things I obviously already know?

@evidentialist but I do understand you very well. My point is a) to inform others and b) to let you realize that no process for citizenship takes so many years....regardless of what you say.

@DUCHESSA -- I didn't say anything at all about citizenship taking so many years. If you do understand me, then maybe you don't read critically or your retention is lacking. Then again, perhaps you see what you want or think is there. I don't know.


  1. The OP is about citizenship,

  2. You were talking about legal status but didn't specify it at all,.. .

  3. I mentioned several times the difference between both processes but you, at no time, grabbed the hint and continue to talk about obtaining legal status,

  4. It seems to me you are not understanding what we are all debating or refuse to acknowledge you made a mistake.

  5. Enough for me. I know both processes very well...


I was adopted at the age of 2 from Vietnam. My mom died when I was 18. I got my first job at age 25. I found out I wasn't a US citizen. I had to quit and get my citizenship. It took 1 year. I got denied 3x. We hired someone to help us fill out the paperwork. I got it when I was 26. I got my job back too. I didn't know I wasn't a US citizen. We assumed I was. I got that in 2015. Before Trump became President of the US.

Some people assume that getting married to an American grants them the USA Citizenship w/o the need of applying for said status.

Uninformed people have no idea what happens out in the 'real' world...if they don't know about it, never heard of...then every thing is only like, what happens in their 'little' world!


Who says this? Where are you getting your facts?


The ones that have a green card do seek citizenship once they qualify. They have a three to five years qualification period. The undocumented ones cannot become citizens because they do not have legal status or a green card and do not qualify

But only if they want to become citizens...3 years if married to a citizen or 5 years on their own. My sister did apply 25 years after getting her green card...and only because I had mine.


My wife is an immigrant and I can vouch that it was pure hell getting citizenship. A lot of traveling, a lot of money, a lot of patience and a lot of fighting the INS and she was legal. We did everything by the book and it took right at ten years.

gearl Level 7 Jan 22, 2018

And how does she feel about the amnesty programs? My late partner also went through the hurdles to obey the law and she got really mad when she saw people breaking the law and getting away with it. This is a part of our immigration debate that is often missing.

You are the only case I hear it took so long. Many of my students' parents became citizens in one or two years.

@JackPedigo She supports the dreamers because they came here as kids. Her attitude toward those that come here illegally otherwise sounds the same as your late partner.

@DUCHESSA She came here in 1997 and things were tough. For instance we had to make many trips to Phoenix which is 200 miles from here. One day we got up at three in the morning and drove down because she had to get her fingerprints taken. We arrived about 8, the first ones there. Everybody seemed intent working on their computers but when I got up to go to the bathroom I discovered they were all playing solitaire but we had to wait several hours for no reason. Workers were rude and not up to doing their jobs. A few years later we returned with a friend and things had become as they should be with people moving through. We too knew some who went through in a couple of years. I don't know what it is like now.

I think the dreamers are caught between two worlds. Often parents will use their children for their own gains.

@gearl Assuming that the employees were really playing solitaries....She could have taken the fingerprints at a local police station or at the center where INS sent her. A friend of mine became a citizen last than two years ago; the process for her lasted seven months.
I became an USA Citizen in 1986...I sent the papers over the mail, was told to get to a police station to be fingerprinted and sent this info. to the INS (NYC)...three months later I received a letter telling me date / time to take the test (they asked me two questions) and I was told "Technically you already are a USA Citizen...only rest the ceremony"....which took place two months later in White Plains, NY.....I never had to go to an INS office.

@JackPedigo That's exactly what happen....but USA doesn't have to be happy about this.

@DUCHESSA It may have been true for you but I can assure you that they wouldn't allow fingerprints from a local police station. They did send us to Gallup NM on one occasion which is 100 miles one way and when we arrived on the designated date they were closed and we were told to return the next day. When we went back the yo-yo that took the prints sent them to Texas rather than California which again caused a major delay. I can also assure that when in Phoenix, I could see at least four computer screens and each of them had solitaire running. I do know what solitaire looks like. When she did get in for the interview the woman didn't even know what a PO Box was or what the word signature meant. Maybe the folks in NY were organized but these people were unbelievable. Like I said they did later do major changes.

@gearl Are you sure she was applying for citizenship and no for the green card (LEGAL STATUS)?


The law abiding do. But there are apparently lines… And, those coming up from central america most likely want to return after educating their children and making the equivalent of a small fortune ‘back home.’

Varn Level 8 Jan 22, 2018

My son-in-law was in medical school in El Paso, Texas. He told us we would not believe all the pregnant Latinos seeking to have their babies in the U.S.

I believe tjhe "small fortune" part of your post....but education in CA is a lot better than here.

@JackPedigo They are know as anchor babies.

@JackPedigo Our Fourteenth Amendment (1868 ) to the Constitution, enacted to assure future children of former slaves were considered citizens, continues to be abused. So, once an alien’s child is born and receives ‘instant citizenship,’ the ‘chain migration’ of it’s relatives begins? This abuse of our system is why ‘trump’ was elected, and one of few things I’m in total agreement with his supporters..

@Varn My late partner's son was in medical school and went to El Paso for some studies. He reported that he was amazed at the number of pregnant Latinos coming across the border to have their children in the U.S.

There is a group "NumbersUSA" that try to inform people of the impact of excessive immigration on the environment. Unfortunately, too many liberals have been brainwashed by the industries that want more cheap and controllable labor. In order to get a balance sometimes the pendulum must swing from one extreme to the other. The big problem is that the industries are still there and still controlling the government including tRump.


If you don’t want me o a citizen, go home.


Think the language barrier, they have to take a test and study. Could be finical. Some may just not know where to start.

That is no excuse. My late wife came to the U.S. with 2 kids and didn't speak a word of English. In 5 years she had a third child and graduated from a University. She later went on to get all (4 of them) their citizenship's.

@JackPedigo I know many people that have done it as well. From my time living in California around loads of immigrants having friend that are immigrants there are my more reasons than I listed. The way you suggested is how the more intelligent ones go about it. Unfortunately not all are in the same elevator when it comes to brains.

@azzow2 Unfortunately, that lack of intelligence is not a good thing for our country. We have enough of that from the religionists in this country.

The problem is when one imports poor people one should not be surprised when poverty increases and hence the difference between rich and poor.

I am not against immigration. I just feel strongly it needs to be done with an evidence based reasoned policy instead of a hyped up emotional one.

@JackPedigo This idea I agree with. The other problem that happens is the customs are not perceived properly and this causes discrimination and in some places ridicule. Which is wrong, it does happen a lot.

After a person is 55 y/o no english is required... And the test -for all- is not near as hard as you may think.... Besides, they can take classes.

@JackPedigo neighbor is a Mexican Spanish teacher at our high school...she has a master degree...whole family are professionals back in Mexico...YOU really do need to get out more...

So what. There are lots of people like that. We have good friend in Vancouver. BC. He came illegally, worked undercover and finally got accepted. He is a successful carpenter. That still does.t make it right!
Should we laud those who make it and condemn those that don't?

I have gotten around, a lot. I moved to Germany. I did the legal work to get my residence permit. I know more than a lot of this issue. My late partner was from Iran. She went through years of work to get her citizenship for herself, husband and two kids. Her experience is also part of mine!!

@JackPedigo ...then maybe open heart surgery would help?

@JackPedigo ...reading your post again, suddenly took me back 77 years, to my proverty stricken childhood, not to mention the mental illness! Maybe, if you used another approach to support your position, the people, who's people have been here for generations, wouldn't get their feathers' up...realizing that they once were 'those' people, that seem to hold less value to society than you do!

@Freedompath Where did I mention 'those people'? There seems to be a lot of unsubstantiated inferences from my critics. 'My people' (2 brothers) came from France to fight in our revolutionary war so there is another wrong inference. What most fail to understand is that when we make the statement "this country was founded on immigrants" we ignore the indigenous peoples that were here in the first place and what we tried to do to them to get them out of the way. This is the case with many countries. Nothing is of value to a society if it takes more than it gives. My late wife was an elementary school teacher in a Seattle international school and she constantly dealt with immigrants. Some were supportive of the society but many took resources. The Seattle school district has 150+ languages spoken. It takes tremendous finances to hire translators, IA's, bootstrap programs and on. Many of the languages are obscure and qualified people to work with the students cannot be found so they have to hire whoever they can get. So much money is spent to assimilate so many immigrants money is actually being taken away from the special ed programs! To me it is NOT about people but policies that support people and the citizens of a country, any country, must take precedence.

Any time one mentions immigration, or charity or overpopulation, buttons are pushed and people get their dander up. I am used to getting snide and critical comments and it doesn't really bother me. I am just frustrated that so many are unwilling to have a reasoned discussion and too quick to throw stones.

@azzow2 Unfortunately, a lot of customs need to be discriminated against like female genital mutilation.

A funny story: When my late partner first came here she had two kids 6 & 4. One night her husband was at school and the doorbell rang. It was Halloween and she was greeted by a bunch of kids that said "trick or treat" and held out bags full of candy. She thought what a nice custom and took some candy for her kids. The kids said nothing and left. Word got around and fewer and fewer kids came to her house. She was mortified when she heard the truth.

@JackPedigo I appaud your wife and family, but would you be interested to know, that I have not been able to grasp a foreign language. I have been around Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and Arabic, as hard as I try I cannot learn another language. But, I listen with my heart and it all comes out in the end.

@Freedompath I speak German and Parvin and English. She learned at 24 and it took her less than 5 years to be totally fluent. She tried to learn German but couldn't but she could communicate with her hands and body better than anyone else I have ever known. In the end her brain tumor only affected her speech but she was able to communicate right up to the end.


They don't want to be affiliated with the current POTUS.

Then why come here?


Don't reply to a nonserious answer with a serious question.

@JackPedigo you need to travel more, have some 'wordly' experience under your belt... you might get more comfortable with the 'people' thing!

You have no idea how much I or anyone else has traveled. I lived in Europe 15 years and Turkey for one. I have lived in many cities in the U.S. I have had relationships with women from different parts of the world. I have had far more "worldly" experience than most! When people make comments about people they know nothing about it is a reflection on them not the other person!

@JackPedigo ...I was guessing?

The guy in office....whoever....doesn't even know who becomes a USA Citizen.

@Freedompath You know what they say about assuming?

@JackPedigo ...'guessing' is opinion...assuming is, prentend to know, or take for granted. Just so we are on same page.

@Freedompath The synonym for assume is guess and to me they can be one and the same.

@JackPedigo see...right here is a break assumed that I meant 'assuming'...when I meant 'guessing' this how to split hairs?

@Freedompath OK, in the consideration of peace I'll agree.
I looked in the mirror and my hair doesn't have any split ends.

@JackPedigo ..could it be that quality conditioner is working? I wouldn't put to much stock in that 'consideration of peace' thing! One never knows what tomorrow brings...


Still new to posting and need to find out how to add to the body of the post. Seems like groups of immigrants like the DACA immigrants could solve their own problems by applying for citizenship but yet they have not. Read about an immigrant who was here for 30 years and then was deported. Wonder why he never applied for citizenship. This is a mystery to me.

I've been wondering about that too - wonder if there is a cost involved?

A lot of them DO. Are you aware how expensive it is to hire an immigration attorney? Many have invested in trying to pursue legal status, only to get ripped off by unscrupulous lawyers, who only take their money. Why should any of the people who were brought here as children be penalized?

There is abundant information online about the man who was ripped from his family and deported. He was continually up against legal road blocks. Not as easy as people think !

@tsjames The issue to me is what about the parents who brought them here illegally in the first place?

Similarly, amnesty for whom?

@pennyc14 There is a fee indeed...but nothing near the thousands of dollars many mentioned. To obtain the Legal Status is expensive because usually involves a lawyer and a lot of paperwork...and years dealing with them.

I get the feeling many here are confusing to obtain Resident Alien status (a.k.a Green Card) with USA Citizenship.

I will place those parents in jail during five years and, then, I would deport them. IMHO USA can't be solving the problems of other countries....and certainly the parents you mention don't have the right to tell USA how to solve the problem they created.

@DUCHESSA Years ago a concern was made that as the number of immigrants rise so does their voice and at some point we will be unable to control our own immigration policies. Unfortunately, that kind of thing only can be resolved with a hurtful backlash. One can see this all over the world. It was a big reason for Brexit and the rise of conservatism in other countries.

@KKGator An immigration lawyer is not hired to obtain the citizenship but legal status....For the citizenship you don't need a lawyer....on;y to fill up the papers and to pay the fee demanded by INS.

@evergreen I am trying to let them know exactly what you are saying....but it is obvious that most people get Legal status and citizenship mixed up.

@JackPedigo I thought @tsjames was pretty clear in his statement that amnesty as it applies to the person who was a child when brought here. I agree with him. I think it would be nothing short of barbaric to banish somebody who has lived here and knows only this country as home.

As for the parents.....saying they arrived after the age of 21, that is a mixed bag for me. The law-abiding part of me says they have to return to the home they knew as adults. The bleeding heart in me says "Okay, you can stay, but you have to follow all the rules, get documented, and don't sneak others in behind you." (That is an off-the-cuff statement, so please spare me any hair splitting.)

@BlueWave I see the basic premise of how many people can this country accommodate without without losing control of our environmental and social networks as not being about splitting hairs! It is about reality.

@JackPedigo I don't think anybody here -- and I don't think the majority of Americans --
think we should have a Free-for-All when it comes to immigration.

Overall, in my opinion, I read your posts about environment, bursting at the seams, etc. as a facade to your anti-immigration stance.

Just my opinion.

@BlueWave I have gone to great lengths to show I am NOT anti-immigrANT. I am anti-excessive immigratION (there is a difference between a person and a policy).

NumbersUSA is a group dedicated to showing the link between population growth and environmental destruction. We have discussed overpopulation many times on this site. To me those who deny the population/activity impact on the life support systems are worse than thos who deny anthropogenic (that word is an important link) Climate Change.

@JackPedigo For me, that would be more easily seen with some balance in the words you choose. As purely an example "I like oranges, but I think too many oranges at one time is not necessarily healthy." Remember, just an example of what I mean by balance. That would help me to see you are not anti-immigrANT.

@BlueWave So which of my "words" seem unbalanced? I have come across lots of people who are ready to condemn me simply because I question my peer groups 'norm'. No matter what I say I am guilty of being a racist. I welcome constructive, reasoned criticism of anything I say. Plus, for those who have been paying attention my circumstances should say something of my feelings.

@JackPedigo I'm not here to school you. I simply told you what would allow me to see you as having balance and not being anti-immigrant. Cheers!

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