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Change in immigration norms drives more citizenship applications

Billy Idol recently became a citizen of the United States. The 63-year-old rock star, originally from England, was sworn in at a Los Angeles ceremony in November. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services tweeted, "it's a nice day for a naturalization ceremony."

There could be any number of reasons why the celebrated rocker chose to become a citizen, but there has been a significant increase in applications for U.S. citizenship lately. In some areas, the uptick in pending applications is as much as 88 percent over two years ago.

Immigration advocates say that being hassled by authorities while traveling is one reason green card holders are deciding on citizenship. Another is the fear that U.S. laws allowing lawful permanent residents to travel could change, keeping them from visiting family abroad. Other immigrants cite the overall hassle of dealing with immigration procedures and worries over their long-term legal status.

"In the current atmosphere where the immigration procedures and norms are evolving very quickly, there is a desire to just be completely out of that context and to just be a U.S. citizen," said an immigration attorney. "To have full confidence that under no circumstances would you be forced to leave the country."

Every immigrant has their own reason for choosing naturalization. 64-year-old Carlos da Cruz, originally a Chinese Peruvian, came to the U.S. to study business in the 1970s and became a lawful permanent resident in 1993. He has been eligible to apply for citizenship for almost 25 years but never felt the urge to naturalize until now.

"I'm very proud of being multicultural, multi-race," he told reporters. But now he has reached "this critical point, and then you say, 'I need to do something. To secure myself.'"

That attempt to gain security will take a while. Da Cruz is waiting for a date to take the citizenship test, but the backlog in citizenship applications has grown to two years or more.

If you are a green card holder and are interested in becoming a U.S. citizen, contact Yew Immigration Law Group. We can ensure your application is proper and complete so you can minimize the time you spend waiting.

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