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Immigration Process in The United States

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Immigration is a very controversial topic in the United States. Some people want a wall built between Mexico and the United States to stop illegal immigration. Others want open borders. Some are worried about national security, while others are worried about the people trying to seek asylum or more opportunities. Others want the process of becoming a U.S. citizen to become easier, or more difficult.

Before a person can apply for citizenship, they must be a permanent resident of the United States. Becoming a permanent resident is a long and expensive process. A Permanent Resident Card is usually granted through family, employment, or refugee or asylum status.

A person applying for a Permanent Resident Card must be eligible for one of the immigrant categories established in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). They must have an immigrant petition filed and approved and have an immigrant visa available. Then, they must apply using the I-485 form, and submit any documentation needed. The filing fee for this application is $1140, and $85 for the biometric services fee. Biometric services include taking fingerprints.

A person applying for U.S. citizenship must have had a Permanent Resident Card for at least five years, or three years if they are the spouse of a U.S. citizen. A person applying for citizenship must be 18 years old, can read, write, and speak basic English, and have good moral character. A permanent resident must complete the N-400, Application for Naturalization, which costs $620 to file, and biometric services fee which costs $85, total $725 to apply for citizenship. This application is twenty pages long, requiring information about yourself, your family, and questions regarding your moral behavior. Then, the permanent resident must take a United States history and government test. If the applicant is selected for an interview, then they will be given a decision. The permanent resident’s application’s decision for citizenship, is either granted, continued, or denied. The permanent resident must show strong moral character, and if not, they will be denied from citizenship, and may be deported depending on the circumstance.

The Naturalization test is a part of becoming a U.S. citizen. Studies have found that most Americans would not be able to pass the test, even if they have lived here all their lives and took U.S. history and government classes during their academic careers. Immigrants are expected to learn a different language- how to speak, write and read English. Then, they are expected to take a test and pass it even though most Americans cannot pass the test. Studies have found that two-thirds of Americans would not be able to pass this test. The test asks questions about the United States Constitution, the Supreme Court, and about past wars.

In the last twenty years, one law has stayed the same surrounding asylum seekers. There is a thirty-day deadline when it comes to determining if asylum seekers’ application was granted or denied. Other categories of immigration applications are often pushed aside so the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can focus on asylum seekers’ applications and meeting the deadline. On September 6th, 2019, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services planned to reform the deadline because it does not consider the full background check and verification process that these new applications must go through with improved technology and improved national security.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services also want to change the law requiring the applications submit their renewal requests to them 90 days before their employment authorization expires. “This would reduce confusion regarding employment authorization renewal requirements for pending asylum applicants, minimize potential gaps in employment, and ensure consistency with the 2017 American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 (AC21) Rule and implementing policies.” The 2017 American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 allows foreigners to change their jobs before receiving the Permanent Resident Card and allows them to keep their visa beyond the six year limit. If applicants sent their applications 90 days before employment license expires, there would be no gap with their work.

Deportation is taking a foreign national out of the U.S., and this happens for many reasons. Sometimes a foreign national violates their visa or commits a crime. During the Obama presidency, three million immigrants were deported, while during Trump’s presidency, 295,000 immigrants were deported. Of those immigrants deported, the majority were not a threat to society. The medical deferred action program allowed people who needed to receive medical care in the United States stay in the United States. The Trump administration recently stopped this program. Foreign nationals, including children come to the United States because they need medical treatment not available in their home country, for illnesses and disabilities, such as cancer and cystic fibrosis.

As seen from the essay, in order to become a United States citizen, an applicant must have had a Permanent Resident Card for at least five years. The process to become a permanent resident is a long and expensive process. Sometimes, people who come from different countries seeking better opportunities cannot afford to file for the card. People who came to United States because of the medical deferment program are now being deported, even though they need medical care. The United States needs to reform the Immigration system and help people who are trying to seek more opportunities, asylum, or medical care.


  1. Green Card Eligibility. (2018, January 11). Retrieved September 29, 2019, from
  2. lardieri, alexa. (2018, October 12). 2 of 3 Americans Wouldn’t Pass U.S. Citizenship Test. Retrieved September 29, 2019, from 10-12/2-of-3-americans-wouldnt-pass-us-citizenship-test.
  3. N-400, Application for Naturalization. (2019, March 22). Retrieved September 29, 2019, from
  4. Radford, Jynnah. “Key Findings about U.S. Immigrants.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 17 June 2019,
  5. Schulte, Cara. “Trump Administration to Deport Sick Children, People with Disabilities.” Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Watch, 3 Sept. 2019,
  6. “USCIS Proposes More Effective and Efficient Processing of Work Authorization Requests for Asylum Applicants.” USCIS, 6 Sept. 2019, proposes-more-effective-and-efficient-processing-work-authorization-requests-asylum-applicants.

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