United States speeds up citizenship petitions
17 March 2008
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In January, United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced an enormous backlog of immigrant petitions for naturalization and other services in response to the announcement of a sharp increase in fees that went into effect in summer of 2007. It was originally expected that naturalization petitions in particular would take 16-18 months to be processed.
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However, Emilio T. Gonzalez, Director of USCIS, announced on 11 March to the House Appropriations Committee that his department has shortened the estimate to 14-16 months for people who filed for US citizenship during the summer of 2007 -- still double the normal average waiting period of 7 months previous to the fee hike.
"During FY 2007, we received approximately 1.4 million naturalization applications," Gonzalez said in a statement. "In the months of June and July of 2007 alone, we experienced an increase of nearly 350 percent compared to the same period in 2006."
He noted that the decreased waiting period was due to the hard work of 17,000 USCIS workers and contractors, many of whom were hired in response to the increased demand caused by the fee hike. The new fees, which came into effect at the end of July 2007, were partially implemented to help deal with previously exisiting backlogs.
"I am proud of our accomplishments," Gonzalez said.
"Still, we remain committed to doing even better. And, we will continue to improve while maintaining our commitment to the integrity of the immigration process and national security requirements," he added.