Immigrants Facing Epic Citizenship Delays

Rush to beat fee hike has wait at 18 months
By Zach Samalin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2008 5:40 PM CST
Sony Bellony, 31, of Haiti raises his right hand as he is sworn in as a U.S. citizen during a naturalization ceremony in Miami Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2007. Four ceremonies are taking place Wednesday...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – Over one million immigrants will have to wait up to 18 months before become US citizens due to a massive bureaucratic backlog nationwide. Applications surged last summer ahead of a fee increase of nearly 75%, the Boston Globe reports, helping create the paper jam. Before the increase, the average immigrant waited six months to be processed.

The delays have prompted fierce criticism, in particular because longer waits could mean hundreds of thousands of unrealized potential votes in this year's election. In Florida alone, roughly 200,000 immigrant are hoping to cast ballots in November, CNN reports, enough to swing the state significantly in either direction; pending Immigration Bureau backup hirings are unlikely to speed things up substantially.