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Wait to process citizenship application grows to a year or more

It's an unfortunate reality that the wait to have a U.S. citizenship application processed can be long. In past years, applications were processed in about four to six months, according to one Bay Area citizenship class instructor. Since the Trump administration began, that wait has grown to between 10 months and a year -- and longer in other big cities with large immigrant populations.

The problem could be ineffective government. Some groups suspect it's an intentional effort to limit the number of immigrant citizens -- a "second wall," if you will. The administration says the reason for the growing backlog is that many more people are now applying for U.S. citizenship.

The numbers back that up, in part. According to data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the number of pending citizenship applications has nearly doubled since 2014 to 750,000, and has increased by almost 20 percent since President Trump took office. Meanwhile, the number of annual naturalizations has remained the same since the beginning of the administration, and the USCIS is on track to increase the number of completed applications this year by 13 percent.

On the other hand, an Obama administration change doubled the length of the citizenship application. And, the Trump administration has increased the rigor of the citizenship interview process, making it much more detailed and time consuming.

"Students are coming back and they're talking about being asked about every single bit of information no matter how minute it may be in that application. And so yes, we feel the citizenship interview is tightening," said the citizenship class instructor from the Bay Area.

One citizenship student, a former diplomat, has been spending hours preparing for the interview, and he is nervous. His interview and citizenship test were scheduled for a week after NPR interviewed him -- 10 months from when he submitted the application and $725 fee.

Meanwhile, he imagines how he will feel becoming a citizen, assuming all goes well. "I am celebrate. I am very happy. I am feel very good," he told NPR.

If you are interested in becoming a U.S. citizen, it is now more important than ever that you fill out your application correctly and provide all the necessary underlying information. You need to get it right the first time. Contact Yew Immigration Law Group for experienced assistance.

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