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United States lawful permanent residency refers to a person's immigration status: the person is authorized to live and work

in the United States of America on a permanent basis. A United States Permanent Resident Card (USCIS Form I-551), formerly Alien Registration Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card (INS Form I-151), is an identification card attesting to the permanent resident status of an alien in the United States. It is known informally as agreen card because it had been green in color from 1946 until 1964, and it has reverted to that color since May 2010.


card also refers to an immigration process of becoming a permanent resident. The green card serves as proof that its holder, a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), has been officially granted immigration benefits, which include permission to reside and take employment in the USA. The holder must maintain permanent resident status, and can be removed from the United States if certain conditions of this status are not met. Green cards were formerly issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). During a reorganization process, that agency was absorbed into and replaced by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), part of the Department of Homeland Security(DHS). Shortly after that re-organization, BCIS was renamed to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which still retains the responsibility for issuing green cards. Permanent residents of the United States eighteen years of age or older must carry their valid physical green card itself at all times. Failing to do so would be a violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act, carrying the possibility of a fine up to $100 and/or imprisonment for up to 30 days for each offense.
[2] [3]

Only the federal government can impose these penalties.


1 Reading a Permanent Resident Card 2 Path to U.S. citizenship 3 Types of immigration

3.1 Immigration eligibility and quotas

4 Application process

4.1 Application process for family-sponsored visas

o o

4.1.1 Green card holders and families

4.2 Application process for employment-based visa 4.3 Green card lottery

4.3.1 Recent developments 4.3.2 Crime: Green card lottery scam 4.3.3 Green card lottery e-mail fraud

5 Conditional permanent residence

6 Abandonment or loss of permanent residence status

6.1 Tax costs of green card relinquishment

7 See also 8 References 9 External links

9.1 US Government immigration sites


a Permanent Resident Card


Most of the information on the card is self-evident.

The computer and human readable signature at

the bottom is not. The format is (digit range: expected data (information contained)): First line: 12: C1 or C2. C1 = Resident within the United States C2= Permanent Resident commuter (Living in Canada or Mexico) 35: USA (issuing country, United States) 614: 9-digit number (A#, alien number) 15: application receipt number 1630: immigrant case number that resulted in the approved green card. The "<" symbol represents a blank space Second line:

1-6: birth date (in YY/MM/DD format) 7: not documented, assumed to be a check digit 8: gender 9-14: expiration date (in YY/MM/DD format) 15: not documented, assumed to be a check digit 16-29: country of birth 30: not documented, assumed to be a check digit Third line:

last name, first name, middle name, first initial of father, first initial of mother (this line is spaced with "<<" between the last name and first name). Depending on the length of the name, the father's and mother's initials may be omitted. A full list of category codes (i.e. IR1, E21, etc.) can be found in the Federal Register.


to U.S. citizenship

This section does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.(October

A Lawful Permanent Resident can apply for United States citizenship, or naturalization, after five years of residency. This period is shortened to three years if married to a U.S. citizen, or four years if permanent residency was received through asylum. Lawful Permanent Residents may submit their applications for naturalization as early as 90 days before meeting the residency requirement. Citizens are entitled to more rights (and obligations) than permanent residents (who are still classified as aliens in this respect). Lawful Permanent Residents generally do not have the right to vote, the right to be elected in federal and state elections, the ability to bring family members to the United States (permanent residents are allowed to sponsor certain family members,

but this is often not


practical due to long approval delays


or eligibility for federal government jobs. Male permanent residents between the ages of 18 and 26 are subject to registering in the Selective Service System. Permanent residents who reside in the US must pay taxes on their worldwide income, like U.S. citizens. Certain conditions that may put a permanent resident in deportation proceedings do not apply to U.S. citizens. [edit]Types

of immigration

U.S. immigration legislation in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)

stipulates that a person may obtain permanent resident status primarily through the course of the following proceedings:

immigration through a family member immigration through employment immigration through investment immigration through the Diversity Lottery immigration through Refugee or Asylum status

immigration through "The Registry" provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act

immigration approved by the Director of Central Intelligence


eligibility and

Annual Quotac Immigrant Visa Backlog





Immediate relative (opposite sex spouse, minor children & parents) of No U.S. citizens numerical (A U.S. citizen limita must be at least 21 years of age in order to sponsor his or her parents.)


Unmarried (or married to a same sex spouse) sons and daughters (21 years of age or older)


718 yearsb

of U.S. citizens


Opposite sex spouse and minor children (under 21 year old) of lawful permanent residents


4 yearsb


Unmarried (or married to a same sex spouse) sons and daughters (21 years of age or older) of lawful permanent residents


819 yearsb


Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens


10-19 yearsb


Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens


11-23 yearsb



Priority workers. There are three subgroups: 1. Foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics OR 2. Foreign nationals that are outstanding professors or


currently available

researchers with at least three years' experience in teaching or research and who are recognized internationally. OR 3. Foreign nationals that are managers and executives subject to international transfer to the United States.


Professionals holding advanced degrees (Ph.D., master's degree, or at least five years of progressive postbaccalaureate experience) or persons of exceptional ability in sciences, arts, or business

currently available except for individuals from the 40,000 People's Republic of China and India (5 years)b


Skilled workers, professionals, and other workers

40,000 69 yearsb


Certain special immigrants: ministers, religious workers, current or former U.S. government workers, etc.


currently available



currently available, 10,000 except for nationals of China[14]

Diversity Immigrant (DV)


Political Asylum[15]

No numerical limit



300,000500,000 immediate relatives admitted annually. b No more than 7 percent of the visas may be issued to natives of any one country. Currently, individuals from China (mainland), India, Mexico and the Philippines are subject to per-country quotas in most of the categories, and the waiting time may take longer. [17] c Spouse and minor children of the IR/F4/EB applicants, DV winners, asylums & refugees may apply for immigrant visa adjudication with their spouse or parent. The quotas include not only the principal applicants but also their nuclear family members. [edit]Application


An immigrant usually has to go through a three-step process to get permanent residency. The whole process may take several years, depending on the type of immigrant category and the country of birth. An applicant (alien) in the United States can obtain two permits while the case is pending after a certain stage is passed in green card processing (filing of I-485). The first is a temporary work permit known as the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which allows the alien to take employment in the United States. The

second is a temporary travel document, advance parole, which allows the alien to re-enter the United States. Both permits confer benefits that are independent of any existing status granted to the alien. For example, the alien might already have permission to work in the United States under an H-1B visa. 1. Immigrant Petition in the first step, USCIS approves the immigrant petition by a qualifying relative, an employer, or in rare cases, such as with an investor visa, the applicant himself. If a sibling is applying, she or he must have the same parents as the applicant. 2. Immigrant Visa Availability in the second step, unless the applicant is an "immediate relative", an immigrant visa number through the National Visa Center (NVC)


the United States Department of State (DOS) must be available. A visa number might not be immediately available even if the USCIS approves the petition, because the number of immigrant visa numbers is limited every year by quotas set in the Immigration and Nationality Act
] [disambiguation needed

(INA). There are also certain

additional limitations by country of birth. Thus, most immigrants will be placed on lengthy waiting lists. Those immigrants who are immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen (spouses and children under 21

years of age, and parents of a US citizen who is 21 years of age or older) are not subject to these quotas and may proceed to the next step immediately (since they qualify for the IR immigrant category). 3. Immigrant Visa Adjudication in the third step, when an immigrant visa number becomes available, the applicant must either apply with USCIS to adjust their current status to permanent resident status or apply with the DOS for an immigrant visa at the nearest US consulate before being allowed to come to the United States. Adjustment of Status (AOS) Adjustment of status is submitted to USCIS via form I485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

The USCIS conducts

a series of background checks (including fingerprinting for FBI criminal background check and name checks) and makes a decision on the application. Once the adjustment of status application is accepted, the alien is allowed to stay in the United States even if the original period of authorized stay on the Form I94 is expired, but he is not allowed to leave the country until the application is approved or rejected. If the alien has to leave the United States during this time, he/she can apply for travel

documents at the USCIS with form I-131, also called Advance Parole.

If there is a potential

risk that the applicant's work permit (visa) will expire or become invalid (laid off by the employer and visa sponsor) or the applicant wants to start working in the United States, while he/she is waiting for the decision about his/her application to change status, he/she can file form I-765, to get Employment Authorization Documents(also called EAD) and be able to continue or start working legally in the United States.

In some cases, the

applicant will be interviewed at a USCIS office, especially if it is a marriage-based adjustment from a K-1 visa, in which case both the husband and wife will be interviewed by the USCIS. If the application is approved, the alien becomes an LPR, and the actual green card is mailed to the alien's last known mailing address. Consular Processing this is an alternative to AOS, but still requires the immigrant visa petition to be completed. If the applicant is outside of the USA (or selects this option instead of AOS), he/she may make an appointment at the U.S. embassy or consulate in his/her

home country, where a consular officer adjudicates the case. If the case is approved, an immigrant visa is issued by the U.S. embassy or consulate. The visa entitles the holder to travel to the U.S. as an immigrant. At the port of entry, the immigrant visa holder is processed for a permanent resident card and receives an I-551 stamp in his/her passport. The permanent resident card is mailed to his/her US address within several weeks. [edit]Application

process for family-sponsored visas

[edit]Green card holders and families This section does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.(October

Green card holders married to non-U.S. citizens are able to legally bring their spouses and minor children to join them in the USA, but only after an extensive multiyear delay, during which time the family is separated. The foreign spouse of a green card holder must wait for approval of an 'immigrant visa' from the State Department before entering the United States. Due to numerical limitation on the number of these visas, the current wait time for approval is four to five years for all non-retrogressed countries (including Western Europe), and many more for the retrogressed countries. In the interim, the spouse cannot be legally

present in the United States (let alone work), unless he/she secures a visa for himself/herself using some other means. However, securing another (i.e. nonimmigrant) visa for himself/herself is usually difficult (and nearly-impossible at US embassies in some countries). This is because the spouse has to overcome presumed immigrant intent in order to qualify for a non-immigrant (or tourist) visa, a position at odds with her or his marriage to a US permanent resident. Due to the long wait and the immigration intent issues, many green card holders opt to wait to become US citizens (usually 5 years), and only then sponsor their spouses and children (the process is much faster for US Citizens). This, however, imposes a family separation of several years, unique in the immigration laws of industrialized nations. This puts US green card holders in a uniquely disadvantaged situation: visitors and non-immigrants coming to the USA on temporary visas for work, business, or study (including H1, L1, B, J1, and F1 visas) can sponsor their dependent spouses to live with them (but usually not work) in the US; U.S. citizens can sponsor their spouses to come to the USA in non-immigrant status; the spouse can then convert to an immigrant status under the Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act of 2000 (the "LIFE Act"). This process is fast (612 months) and, unlike with green card holders, the spouse can be present in the US during the process.

The issue of US green card holders separated from their families for years is not a new problem. A mechanism to unite families of LPRs was created by the LIFE Act by the introduction of a 'V visa,' signed into law by President Clinton. It effectively expired and is no longer available. From time to time, bills are introduced in Congress to reinstate V visas, so far none have been successful. These proposals for reviving the V visa are based on something that has little controversyfamily unity. However, passing such a bill into law is not a small matter, mostly because it is often perceived as a back-door to increasing immigration levels. [edit]Application

process for employment-based visa

Many immigrants opt for this route, which requires an employer to "sponsor" (i.e. to petition before USCIS) the immigrant (known as thealien beneficiary) through a presumed future job. The three-step process outlined above is described here in more detail for employment-based immigration applications. After the process is complete, the alien is expected to take the certified job offered by the employer to substantiate his or her immigrant status, since the application ultimately rests on the alien's employment with that company in that particular position. 1. Immigrant Petition the first step includes the pre-requisite labor certification upon which the actual petition will reside. Labor Certification the employer must legally prove that it has a need to hire an alien for

a specific position and that there is no minimally qualified U.S. citizen or LPR available to fill that position, hence the reason for hiring the alien. Some of the requirements to prove this situation include: proof of advertising for the specific position; skill requirements particular to the job; verification of the prevailing wage for a position; and the employer's ability to pay. This is currently done through an electronic system known as PERM.


date when the labor certification application is filed becomes the applicant'spriority date. In some cases, for highly skilled foreign nationals (EB1 and EB2 National Interest Waiver, e.g. researchers, athletes, artists or business executives) and "Schedule A" labor


and physical therapists), this step is waived. This step is processed by the United States Department of Labor (DOL). The labor certification is valid for 6 months from the time it is approved. Immigrant Petition the employer applies on the alien's behalf to obtain a visa number. The application is form I140,Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker,

and it is processed

by the USCIS. There are several

EB (employment-based) immigrant categories (i.e. EB1EA, EB2-NIW, EB5)



which the alien may apply, with progressively stricter requirements, but often shorter waiting times. Many of the applications are processed under the EB3 category.

Currently, this

process takes up to 6 months. Many of the EB categories allow expedited processing of this stage, known as "premium processing". 2. Immigrant Visa Availability. When the immigrant petition is approved by the USCIS, the petition is forwarded to the NVC for visa allocation. Currently this step centers around the priority date concept. Priority date the visa becomes available when the applicant's priority date is earlier than the cutoff date announced on the DOS's Visa Bulletin when the immigrant visa category the applicant is assigned to is announced as "current". A "current" designation indicates that visa numbers are available to all applicants in the corresponding immigrant category. Petitions with priority dates earlier than the cutoff date are expected to have visas available, therefore


those applicants are eligible for final adjudication. When the NVC determines that a visa number could be available for a particular immigrant petition, a visa is tentatively allocated to the applicant. The NVC will send a letter stating that the applicant may be eligible for adjustment of status, and requiring the applicant to choose either to adjust status with the USCIS directly, or apply at the U.S. consulate abroad. This waiting process determines when the applicant can expect the immigration case to be adjudicated. Due to quotas imposed on EB visa categories, there are more approved immigrant petitions than visas available under INA. High demand for visas has created a backlog of approved but unadjudicated cases. In addition, due to processing inefficiencies throughout DOS and USCIS systems, not all visas available under the quota system in a given year were allocated to applicants by the DOS. Since there is no quota carry-over to the next fiscal year, for several years visa quotas have not been fully used, thus adding to the visa backlog.

3. Immigrant Visa Adjudication. When the NVC determines that an

immigrant visa is available, the case can be adjudicated. If the alien is already in the USA, that alien has a choice to finalize the green card process via adjustment of status in the USA, or via consular processing abroad. If the alien is outside of the USA he/she can only apply for an immigrant visa at the U.S. consulate. The USCIS does not allow an alien to pursue consular processing and AOS simultaneously. Prior to filing the form I-485 (Adjustment of Status) it is required that the applicant have a medical examination performed by a USCISapproved civil surgeon. The examination includes a blood test and specific immunizations, unless the applicant provides proof that the required immunizations were already done elsewhere. The civil surgeon hands the applicant a sealed envelope containing a completed form I-693, which must be included unopened with the I-485 application.

(The cited reference

also states that the February 25, 2010 edition of the Form I-693 reflects that an individual should no longer be tested for HIV infection.) Adjustment of Status (AOS) after the alien has a labor certification and has been provisionally allocated a visa number, the final step is to change his or her status to permanent residency.

Adjustment of status is submitted to USCIS via form I485,Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. If an immigrant visa number is available, the USCIS will allow"concurrent filing": it will accept forms I-140 and I-485 submitted in the same package or will accept form I-485 even before the approval of the I140.

Consular Processing this is an alternative to AOS, but still requires the immigrant visa petition to be completed. In the past (pre-2005), this process was somewhat faster than applying for AOS, so was sometimes used to circumvent long backlogs (of over two years in some cases). However, due to recent efficiency improvements by the USCIS, it is not clear whether applying via consular processing is faster than the regular AOS process. Consular processing is also thought to be riskier since there is no or very little recourse for appeal if the officer denies the application.


card lottery

Main article: Diversity Immigrant Visa Each year, around 50,000 immigrant visas are made available through the Diversity Visa (DV) program, also known as the Green Card Lottery to people who were born in countries

with low rates of immigration to the United States (fewer than 50,000 immigrants in the past five years). Applicants can only qualify by country of birth, not by citizenship. Anyone who is selected under this lottery will be given the opportunity to apply for permanent residence. They can also file for their spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21. If permanent residence is granted, the winner (and his/her family, if applicable) receives an immigrant visa in their passport(s) that has to be "activated" within six months of issuance at any port of entry to the United States. If already in the US adjustment of status may be pursued. The new immigrant receives a stamp on the visa as proof of lawful admittance to the United States, and the individual is now authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. Finally, the actual "green card" typically arrives by mail within a few months. [edit]Recent developments Over 6.4 million applications for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 Diversity Visa Lottery were submitted. This is an increase from the more than 5.5 million applications submitted in the 2007 Diversity Visa Lottery. Taking into account dependents, there are more than 10 million participants in the 2008 Diversity Visa Lottery. Most of the applications were from Africa and Asia: 41 percent of the total came from Africa, 38 percent from Asia, 19 percent coming from Europe, and two percent from South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. The largest number of applicants came from Bangladesh (more than 1.7

million applicants) followed by Nigeria (684,735) andUkraine (619,584). Normally somewhat lower than 100,000 applicants will be announced as Winners to ensure that all 50,000 Greencards will be issued. For the FY 2008 there were 5,983 Bangladesh, 8,773 Nigerian and 5,018 of the Ukrainian applications declared as Winners.

Of these, there were finally used

2,286 of the Bangladesh Winner numbers, 3,425 of the Nigerian Winner numbers and 1,914 of the Ukrainian Winner numbers to get a Greencard within the time limit. At the end, 46,633 were issued in the FY 2008; 3,367 less than planned.

Therefore the

chances to become a Winner in a Lottery differs from the country of origin for which you are filed for. It also differs from year to year. Over 14.7 million applications for the 2012 Diversity Visa Lottery were submitted. This is an increase from the more than 2.7 million applications submitted in the 2011 Diversity Visa Lottery. Taking into account dependents, there are more than 19.6 million participants in the 2012 Diversity Visa Lottery. The largest number of applicants came from Bangladesh (more than 7.6 million applicants) followed by Nigeria (2,144,626) and Ukraine (1,080,091).

[edit]Crime: Green card lottery scam There is a growing number of fraudulent green card lottery scams, in which false agents take money from applicants by promising to submit application forms for them. Most agents are not working for the

distribution service. Some claim that they can increase the chance of winning the lottery. This is not true; in fact, they may delay or not submit the application. Likewise, some claim to provide to winners free airline tickets or other benefits, such as submissions in future years or cash funds. There is no way to guarantee their claims, and there are ample nefarious reasons for them not to fulfill their promises. Applicants are advised to use only U.S. official government websites, in which the URL ends in .gov. [edit]Green card lottery e-mail fraud Other fraudsters will e-mail potential victims posing as State Department or other government officials with requests to wire or transfer money online as part of a "processing fee." These fraudulent e-mails are designed to steal money from unsuspecting victims. The senders often use phony e-mail addresses and logos designed to make them look more like official government correspondence. One easy way to tell that an email is a fraud is that it does not end with a ".gov". One particularly common fraud email asks potential victims to wire money via Western Union to an individual (the name varies) at the following address in the United Kingdom: 24 Grosvenor Square, London. These emails come from a variety of email addresses designed to impersonate the U.S. State Department. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services blog has published information on this email scam and how to report fraudulent emails to the authorities. The Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Trade

Commission have issued warnings about this type of fraud or similar business practices.



As part of immigration reform under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), as well as further reform enacted in theIllegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA), persons who are eligible and properly apply for permanent residence based on either a recent marriage to a U.S. citizen or as an investor are granted permanent residence only on aconditional basis, for two years. An exception to this rule is the case of a U.S. citizen legally sponsoring a spouse in which the marriage at the time of the adjustment of status (I-485) is more than two years old. In this case, the conditional status is waived and a 10-year Permanent Resident Card is issued upon USCIS approval of the case. A permanent resident under the conditional clause may receive an I-551 stamp as well as a Permanent Resident Card. The expiration date of the conditional period is two years from the approval date. The immigrant visa category is CR (conditional resident). When this two-year conditional period is over, the permanent residence automatically expires and the applicant is subject to deportation and removal. To avoid this, 90 days or less before the conditional residence expires, the applicant must file form I751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence

(if conditional permanent

residence was obtained through marriage) or form I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions

(if conditional

permanent residence was obtained through investment) with USCIS to have the conditions removed. Once the application is received, permanent residence is extended in 1-year intervals until the request to remove conditions is approved or denied. The USCIS requires that the application for the removal of conditions provide both general and specific supporting evidence that the basis on which the applicant obtained conditional permanent residence was not fraudulent. For an application based on marriage - birth certificates of children, joint financial statements, and letters from employers, friends and relatives are some types of evidence that may be accepted. This is to ensure that the marriage was in good faith and not one of fraudulent means with a sole intention of obtaining a green card. A follow-up interview with an immigration officer is sometimes required but may be waived if the submitted evidence is sufficient. Both the spouses must attend the interview under most circumstances. The applicant receives an I-551 stamp in their foreign passport upon approval of their case. The applicant is then free from the conditional requirement once the application is approved. The applicant's new Permanent Resident Card arrives via mail to their residence several weeks to several months later and replaces the old two-year conditional residence card. This new card must be renewed after 10 years, but permanent resident status is now granted for

an indefinite term if residence conditions are satisfied at all times. USCIS may request to renew the card earlier because of security enhancements of the card or as a part of a revalidation campaign to exclude counterfeit green cards from circulation. It is important to note that this two-year conditional residence period counts toward satisfying a residency requirement for U.S.naturalization, and other purposes. Application for the removal of conditions must be adjudicated before a separate naturalization application could be reviewed by USCIS on its own merits. [edit]Abandonment

or loss of permanent residence status

A green card holder may abandon permanent residence by filing form I-407, with the green card, at a U.S. Embassy. Under certain conditions, permanent residence status can be lost involuntarily. This includes committing a criminal act that makes a person removable from the United States. A person might also be found to have abandoned their status if he or she moves to another country to live there permanently, stays outside the USA for more than 365 days (without getting a re-entry permit before leaving),
[42] [41]

or does not file an income

tax return. Permanent resident status can also be lost if it is found that the application or grounds for obtaining permanent residence was fraudulent. The failure to renew the permanent resident card does not result in the loss of status, except in the case of conditional permanent residents as noted above. Nevertheless, it is still a good idea to

renew the green card on time because it also acts as a work permit and travel permit (advance parole), but if you do renew your green card late, there is no penalty or extra fee to pay.

A person who loses permanent residence status is immediately removable from the United States and must leave the country as soon as possible or face deportation and removal. In some cases the person may be banned from entering the country for three or seven years, or even permanently. [edit]Tax

costs of green card relinquishment

Due to the Heart Act

foreign workers who

have owned a green card in eight of the last 15 years and choose to relinquish it will be subject to the Expatriation Tax, which taxes unrealized gains above $600,000, anywhere in the world. However this will only apply to those people who have a federal tax liability greater than $139,000 a year or have a worth of more than $2 million or have failed to certify to the IRS that they have been in compliance with U.S. federal tax obligations for the past five years.

If the green card is not relinquished then the holder is subject to

H-1B visa
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia This article may contain original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding references. Statements consisting only of original research may be removed. More details may be available on the talk page. (November 2009)

The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101(a)(15)(H). It allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. If a foreign worker in H-1B status quits or is dismissed from the sponsoring employer, the worker must either apply for and be granted a change of status to another non-immigrant status, find another employer (subject to application for adjustment of status and/or change of visa), or leave the United States. The regulations define a "specialty occupation" as requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor[1] including but not limited to architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, biotechnology, medicine and health, education, law, accounting, business specialties, theology, and the arts, and requiring the attainment of a bachelors degree or its equivalent as a minimum[2] (with the exception of fashion models, who must be "of distinguished merit and ability".)[3] Likewise, the foreign worker must possess at least a bachelors degree or its equivalent and state licensure, if required to practice in that field. H-1B work-authorization is strictly limited to employment by the sponsoring employer.

1 Duration of stay 2 Congressional yearly numerical cap 3 Employer attestations to protect U.S. workers 4 H-1B fees earmarked for U.S. worker education and training 5 Income taxation status of H-1B workers 6 H-1B employment 7 U.S. policy on maximum duration 8 H-1B and legal immigration 9 Quotas and changes in quotas 10 H-1B-dependent employers 11 Criticisms of the program
o o

11.1 Employees made to pay H1-B sponsorship costs 11.2 No labor shortages

o o o o o o

11.3 Relatively low skills required 11.4 Wage depression 11.5 Hidden costs and risks for employers 11.6 Risks for employees 11.7 Fraud by Employers and Applicants 11.8 The Outsourcing Visa 12.1 Payment of out-of-state tuition 12.2 Social Security and Medicare taxes 12.3 Spouses cannot work 12.4 Unrealistic Departure Requirement on Job Loss 12.5 Administrative processing

12 Criticisms by H-1B holders

o o o o o

13 Worker protection and law enforcement 14 American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 15 Recent Changes to U.S. Policy 16 Similar programs 17 Dependents of H-1B visa holders 18 H-1B demographics 19 H-1B Applications Approved 20 H-1B Visas Issued 21 Usage of H-1B by outsourcing firms 22 Top ten H-1B rankings 23 See also 24 Notes 25 References 26 External links for H-1B information

26.1 Other links


of stay

The duration of stay is three years, extendable to six. An exception to maximum length of stay applies in certain circumstances: 1. one-year extensions if a labor certification application has been filed and is pending for at least 365 days; and 2. three-year extensions if an I-140 Immigrant Petition has been approved.

Despite a limit on length of stay, no requirement exists that the individual remain for any period in the job the visa was originally issued for. This is known as H1B portability or transfer, provided the new employer sponsors another H1B visa, which may or may not be subjected to the quota. Under current law, H1B visa has no stipulated grace period in the event the employer-employee relationship ceases to exist.

yearly numerical cap

The current law limits to 65,000 the number of aliens who may be issued a visa or otherwise provided H-1B status each fiscal year (FY). Laws exempt up to 20,000 foreign nationals holding a masters or higher degree from U.S. universities from the cap on H-1B visas. In addition, excluded from the ceiling are all H-1B non-immigrants who work at (but not necessarily for) universities and non-profit research facilities.[4] This means that contractors working at, but not directly employed by the institutions may be exempt from the cap. Free Trade Agreements carve out 1,400 for Chilean nationals and 5,400 for Singapore nationals. Thus significantly more H-1B visas than the numerical cap are issued each year, with 117,409 in 2010.[5] A yearly "shortfall" in available visas arose beginning in the mid 2000s, despite a temporary increase in the yearly cap.[6] The number had been increased to 195,000 in FY2001, FY2002 and FY2003. The Department of Homeland Security approved about 132,000 H-1B visas in 2004 and 117,000 in 2005.[7] The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services accepts H1-B visa applications no more than 6 months in advance of the requested start date, which is the start of the US fiscal year (October 1st of the previous year). Thus the first business day of April opens the H1-B visa application window.[8] For FY2008, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that on the first day that H-1B visa applications would be accepted (Monday, April 2, 2007), it had already received 150,000 applications, more than twice as much as the 65,000 cap. Per agency rules, when the limit is reached on the first day of filing, all applications received on the first two days are put into a lottery to determine allocation of the available visas.[9]

In 2008, the US 2009 fiscal year H-1B visa quota was reached one week into the application process.[10] For FY 2010, USCIS announced on December 22, 2009 that the quota had been filled.[11]. For FY 2011, final receipt date for new H1-B petitions was January 26, 2011.[12] For FY 2012, as of August 15, 2011, only 25,300 petitions had been filed against the cap of 65,000.[13] In 2008, a total of 276,252 visa applications (initial, renewals and extensions) were approved, and in 2009 that number decreased slightly to 214,271 [14] and 110,367 initial H-1B visas were issued from consular offices [15]. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), described the situation as a crisis, and the situation was reported on by the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeekand Washington Post. Employers applied pressure on congress.[16] Microsoft chairman Bill Gates testified in 2007 on behalf of the expanded visa program on Capitol Hill, "warning of dangers to the [U. S. economy] if employers can't import skilled workers to fill job gaps".[16] Congress considered a bill to address the claims of shortfall,[17] but in the end did not revise the program.[18]

attestations to protect U.S. workers

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is responsible for ensuring that foreign workers do not displace or adversely affect wages or working conditions of U.S. workers. While an employer is not required to advertise the position before hiring an H-1B non-immigrant pursuant to the H-1B visa approval, the employer is required to notify the employee representative about the LCA (Labor Condition Application) or if there is no such representation then the employer is required to publish that LCA at the workplace and the employer's office.[19][20] Employers must attest that wages offered are at least equal to the actual wage paid by the employer to other workers with similar experience and qualifications for the job in question, or alternatively, pay the prevailing wage for the occupation in the area of intended employment, whichever is greater. By signing the LCA, the employer attests that: prevailing wage rate for area of employment will be paid; working conditions of position will not adversely affect conditions of similarly employed American workers; place of employment not

experiencing labor dispute involving a strike or lockout;[19][20] and that the foreign employee will be given benefits comparable to those offered to its other workers with similar jobs.[21] The law requires H-1B workers to be paid the higher of the prevailing wage for the same occupation and geographic location, or the same as the employer pays to similarly situated employees. Other factors, such as age and skill were not permitted to be taken into account for the prevailing wage. Congress changed the program in 2004 to require the Department of Labor to provide four skill-based prevailing wage levels for employers to use. This is the only prevailing wage mechanism the law permits that incorporates factors other than occupation and location. The approval process for these applications are based on employer attestations and documentary evidence submitted. The employer is advised of their liability if they are replacing a US worker.

fees earmarked for U.S. worker education and

In 2007, the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (ETA), reported on two programs, the High Growth Training Initiative and Workforce Innovation Regional Economic Development (WIRED), which have received or will receive $284 million and $260 million, respectively, from H-1B training fees to educate and train U.S. workers[citation needed]

taxation status of H-1B workers

The taxation of income for H-1B employees depends on whether they are categorized for tax purposes as either non-resident aliens orresident aliens. A non-resident alien for tax purposes is only taxed on income from the United States, while a resident alien for tax purposes is taxed on income from both inside and outside the United States. The classification is determined based on the "substantial presence test": If the substantial presence test indicates that the H-1B visa holder is a resident, then income taxation is like any other U.S. person and may be filed using Form 1040 and the necessary schedules; otherwise, the visa-holder must file as a non-resident alien using tax

form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ; he or she may claim benefit from tax treaties if they exist between the United States and the visa holder's country of citizenship. Persons who are in their first year within the United States may choose to be considered a resident for taxation purposes for the entire year, and must pay taxes on their worldwide income for that year. This "First Year Choice" is described in IRS Publication 519 and can only be made once in a person's lifetime. A spouse, regardless of visa status, must have a valid Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) or Social Security number (SSN) in order to be included on a joint tax return with the H1B holder. The rules to file taxes for H-1B holders may be complex, depending on the individual situation. Besides consulting a professional tax preparer knowledgeable about the rules for foreigners, the IRS Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, may be consulted.


According to the USCIS, "H-1B aliens may only work for the petitioning U.S. employer and only in the H-1B activities described in the petition. The petitioning U.S. employer may place the H-1B worker on the worksite of another employer if all applicable rules (e.g., Department of Labor rules) are followed. H-1B aliens may work for more than one U.S. employer, but must have a Form I-129 petition approved by each employer."[22] H-1B visa holders pay Medicare and Social Security taxes, and are eligible for Social Security benefits. They also pay state and federal taxes.

policy on maximum duration

The maximum duration of the H-1B visa is six years (ten years for exceptional Defense Department project-related work). H-1B holders who want to continue to work in the U.S. after six years, but who have not obtained permanent residency status, must remain outside of the U.S. for one year before reapplying for another H-1B visa. There are generally two exceptions to the six-year duration of the H1B visa:

If a visa holder has submitted an I-140 immigrant petition or a labor certification prior to their fifth year anniversary of having the H-1B visa, they are entitled to renew their H-1B visa in one-year or threeyear increments until a decision has been rendered on their application for permanent residence. If the visa holder has an approved I-140 immigrant petition, but is unable to initiate the final step of the green card process due to their priority date not being current, they may be entitled to a threeyear extension of their H-1B visa. This exception originated with the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000.[23]


and legal immigration

Even though the H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa, it is one of the few visa categories recognized as dual intent, meaning an H-1B holder can have legal immigration intent (apply for and obtain the green card) while still a holder of the visa. In the past the employment-based green card process used to take only a few years, less than the duration of the H-1B visa itself. However, in recent times the legal employment-based immigration process has backlogged and retrogressed to the extent that it now takes many years for skilled professional applicants from certain countries to obtain their green cards. Since the duration of the H-1B visa hasn't changed, this has meant a lot more H-1B visa holders have to renew their visas in oneyear or three-year increments to continue to be in legal status while their green card application is in process.

and changes in quotas

The number of new H-1Bs issued each year in the United States is subject to an annual congressionally mandated quota. Each H-1B quota applies to a particular Financial Year which begins on October 1. Applications for the upcoming Financial Year are accepted beginning on the preceding April 1 (or the first working day after that date). Beneficiaries not subject to the annual quota are those who currently hold H-1B status or have held H-1B status at some point in the past six years. This annual quota has had a significant impact on the high tech industry. It has generally been set at 65,000 visas per year, with some exceptions for workers at exempt organizations like

universities and colleges (note: contrary to popular belief, non-profit organizations are not automatically exempt, but may be so if affiliated with a university or college).[citation needed] In 2000, Congress permanently exempted H-1B visas going to Universities and Government Research Laboratories from the quota. During the early years of this quota in the early 1990s, this quota was rarely actually reached. By the mid-1990s, however, the quota tended to be filled each year on a first come, first served basis, resulting in new H-1Bs often being denied or delayed because the annual quota was already filled. In 1998 the quota was increased first to 115,000 and then, in 2000, to 195,000 visas per year. During the years the quota was 195,000, it was never reached.[citation needed] In FY 2004, the quota reverted to 90,000 when the temporary increase passed by Congress in 1999 expired. Since then, the quota is again filling up rapidly every year, making H-1Bs again increasingly hard to get. More recently, the basic quota was left at 65,000 but with an additional 20,000 visas possible for foreign workers with U.S. advanced degrees. Of the 65,000 total, 6,800 are initially reserved for citizens of Chile and Singapore under free trade agreements with those countries; however, if these reserved visas are not used under the agreements, they go back to the general pool. Outside of the 65,000 quota, another 10,500 visas annually are available to Australiancitizens under a similar but more flexible program, the E3 visa program.[citation needed] For FY 2007, beginning on October 1, 2006, the entire quota of visas for the year was exhausted within a span of less than 2 months on May 26, 2006,[24] well before the beginning of the financial year concerned. The additional 20,000 Advanced Degree H-1B visas were exhausted on July 26. In its annual report on H-1B visas released in November 2006, USCIS stated that it approved 131,000 H-1B visas in FY 2004 and 117,000 in FY 2005.[citation needed] The inflation in numbers is because H-1B visas can be exempt from the caps if the employer is a University or Research Lab. For FY 2008, the entire quota was exhausted before the end of the first day on which applications were accepted, April 2.[25] Under USCIS rules, the 123,480 petitions received on April 2 and April 3 that

were subject to the cap were pooled, and then 65,000 of these were selected at random for further processing.[26] The additional 20,000 Advanced Degree H-1B visas for FY 2008 was exhausted on April 30. For FY 2009, USCIS announced on April 8, 2008 that the entire quota for visas for the year has been reached, for both 20,000 Advanced and the 65,000 quota. USCIS would complete initial data entry for all filing received during April 1 to April 7, 2008 before running the lottery.[27] For FY 2010, USCIS announced on December 21, 2009, that enough petitions were received to reach the year quota.[28] For FY 2011, USCIS announced on January 27, 2011, that enough petitions were received to reach the year quota on January 26.[29] For FY 2012, USCIS announced on November 23, 2011, that enough petitions were received to reach the year quota on November 22.[30]


Recent H-1B legislation requires certain employers, called H-1B dependent employers to advertise positions in the USA before petitioning to employ H-1B workers for those positions.[citation needed] These requirements do not apply when hiring an exempt H-1B nonimmigrant For firms of 50 employees, an H-1B dependent employer is defined as having more than 15% of their employees in H-1B status. Smaller firms are allowed to have a higher percentage of H-1B employees before becoming 'dependent'.

of the program

This article's Criticism or Controversy section may compromise the article's neutral point of view of the subject. Please integrate the section's contents into the article as a whole, or rewrite the material; see the discussion on the talk page. (November 2009)

The H-1B program has caused a number of criticisms.


made to pay H1-B sponsorship costs

Although the practice is unlawful[31], it is widely believed[citation needed] that some employers make their H1-B employees pay for most, all or in excess, of the costs associated with sponsoring and

processing an H1-B application. These fees are usually under the guise of bond or other instruments, in an attempt to serve as a legal workaround to the law.

labor shortages

Paul Donnelly, in a 2002 article in Computerworld, cited Milton Friedman as stating that the H-1B program acts as a subsidy for corporations.[32] Others holding this view include Dr. Norman Matloff, who testified to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration on the H-1B subject. Matloff's paper for the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform claims that there has been no shortage of qualified American citizens to fill American computerrelated jobs, and that the data offered as evidence of American corporations needing H-1B visas to address labor shortages was erroneous.[33] The United States General Accounting Office found in a report in 2000 that controls on the H-1B program lacked effectiveness.[34] The GAO report's recommendations were subsequently implemented. High-tech companies often cite a techworker shortage when asking Congress to raise the 65,000 annual cap on H-1B visas, but according to a study conducted by John Miano and the Center for Immigration Studies there is no empirical data to support that claim.[35] Citing studies done at Duke, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Georgetown University and others, critics have also argued that in some years, the number of foreign programmers and engineers imported outnumbered the number of jobs created by the industry.[36] Organizations have also posted hundreds of first hand accounts of H1-B Visa Harm reports directly from individuals negatively impacted by the program, many of whom are willing to speak with the media.[37]

low skills required

Another criticism of the H-1B program is its vague eligibility requirements, but specific guidelines, upheld by a body of case law, define the requirements. While frequently described as a program for highly skilled workers, the H-1B nonimmigrant visa category specifically applies to specialty occupations. It can be argued that any job that requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree is "highly skilled". Specialty occupations have been defined as positions that require theoretical or technical expertise in a specialized field and have

generally been interpreted as being those that normally require the attainment of a Bachelor's degree.[38] Typical H-1B occupations include architects, engineers, computer programmers, accountants, doctors, veterinarian, dentist, registered nurse, business managers, and college professors. The H-1B visa program also includes fashion models.


Wage depression is a chronic complaint critics have about the H-1B program: some studies have found that H-1B workers are paid significantly less than U.S. workers.[39][40] It is claimed[41][42][43][44][45][45] that the H-1B program is primarily used as a source of cheap labor. A paper by Harvard Professor George J. Borjas for the National Bureau of Economic Research found that "a 10 percent immigration-induced increase in the supply of doctorates lowers the wage of competing workers by about 3 to 4 percent."[citation

The LCA included in the H-1B petition is supposed to ensure that H1B workers are paid the prevailing wage in the labor market, or the employer's actual average wage (whichever is higher)[citation needed], but evidence exists that some employers do not abide by these provisions and avoid paying the actual prevailing wage despite stiff penalties for abusers.[46] DOL has split the prevailing wage into four levels, with Level One representing about the 17th percentile of wage average Americans earn. About 80 percent of LCAs are filed at this 17th percentile level[citation needed]. This four-level prevailing wage can be obtained the DOL website,[47] and is generally far lower than average wages[citation needed] . The "prevailing wage" stipulation is allegedly vague and thus easy to manipulate[citation needed], resulting in employers underpaying visa workers. According to Ron Hira, assistant professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, the median wage in 2005 for new H-1B information technology (IT) was just $50,000, which is even lower than starting wages for IT graduates with a B.S. degree. The U.S. government OES office's data indicates that 90 percent of H-1B IT wages were below the median U.S. wage for the same occupation.[48]

In 2002, the U.S. government began an investigation into Sun Microsystems' hiring practices after an ex-employee, Guy Santiglia, filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Labor alleging that the Santa Clara firm discriminates against American citizens in favor of foreign workers on H-1B visas. Santiglia accused the company of bias against U.S. citizens when it laid off 3,900 workers in late 2001 and at the same time applied for thousands of visas. In 2002, about 5 percent of Sun's 39,000 employees had temporary work visas, he said.[49] In 2005, it was decided that Sun violated only minor requirements and that neither of these violations was substantial or willful. Thus, the judge only ordered Sun to change its posting practices.[50]

costs and risks for employers

Although, lower wages do not necessarily mean lower costs for employers. The costs for a company to apply for an H-1B visa can be significant, and it can vary between $1,440 and $5,000[51] as the H1B fee was increased by $2000 for petitioners who employ 50 or more employees in the United States with more than 50 percent of its employees in the United States in H-1B or L (including L-1A, L-1B and L-2) nonimmigrant status from August 14, 2010 as President Obama signed into law Public Law 111-230,[52] depending on the attorney's fees (if used), the number of employees in the company, and if a faster premium service is paid, without including the cost of a possible trip to the border of the country of origin, nor the renewal costs. Besides that, there is no guarantee that the prospective employee will be granted the visa due to high demand, and the expenses are sometimes non-refundable. In addition to that, if the employer should dismiss the employee, the company is liable for any reasonable costs associated with relocation back to the employee's last foreign residence. This provision covers only dismissal; it is not relevant when an employee chooses to resign.[citation needed]

for employees

Historically, H-1B holders have sometimes been described as indentured servants,[53] and while the comparison is no longer as compelling, it had more validity prior to the passage of American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000. Although immigration generally requires short- and long-term visitors to disavow

any ambition to seek the green card (permanent residency), H-1B visa holders are an important exception, in that the H-1B is legally acknowledged as a possible step towards a green card under what is called the doctrine of dual intent. H-1B visa holders may be sponsored for their green cards by their employers through an Application for Alien Labor Certification, filed with the U.S. Department of Labor.[citation needed] In the past, the sponsorship process has taken several years, and for much of that time the H-1B visa holder was unable to change jobs without losing their place in line for the green card. This created an element of enforced loyalty to an employer by an H-1B visa holder. Critics[who?] alleged that employers benefit from this enforced loyalty because it reduced the risk that the H-1B employee might leave the job and go work for a competitor, and that it put citizen workers at a disadvantage in the job market, since the employer has less assurance that the citizen will stay at his job for an extended period of time, especially if the work conditions are tough, wages are lower or the work is difficult or complex. It has been argued that this makes the H-1B program extremely attractive to employers, and that labor legislation in this regard has been influenced by corporations seeking and benefiting from such advantages.[citation needed] Some recent news reports suggest that the recession started in 2008 will exacerbate the H-1B visa situation, both for supporters of the program and for those who oppose it.[54] The process to obtain the green card has become so long, that during these recession years it has not been unusual that sponsoring companies fail and disappear, thus forcing the H-1B employee to find another sponsor, and losing their place in line for the green card. An H-1B employee could be just one month from obtaining their green card, but if the employee is laid off, he or she may have to leave the country, or go to the end of the line and start over the process to get the green card, and wait as much as 10 more years, depending on the nationality and visa category.[55] The American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 provides some relief for people waiting for a long time for a green card, by allowing H-1B extensions past the normal 6 years, as well as by making it easier to change the sponsoring employer.


by Employers and Applicants

The U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES "H-1B Benefit Fraud & Compliance Assessment" of September 2008 concluded 21% of H1-B visa granted originate from fraudulent applications or applications with technical violations.[56] Fraud was defined as a willful misrepresentation, falsification, or omission of a material fact. Technical violations, errors, omissions, and failures to comply that are not within the fraud definition were included in the 21% rate. Subsequently, USCIS has made procedural changes to reduce the number of fraud and technical violations on H-1B applications.

Outsourcing Visa

In his floor statement on H-1B Visa Reform, Senator Dick Durbin stated "The H-1B visa job lasts for 3 years and can be renewed for 3 years. What happens to those workers after that? Well, they could stay. It is possible. But these new companies have a much better idea for making money. They send the engineers to America to fill spots-and get money to do it--and then after the 3 to 6 years, they bring them back to work for the companies that are competing with American companies. They call it their outsourcing visa. They are sending their talented engineers to learn how Americans do business and then bring them back and compete with those American companies."[57] Critics of H-1B use for outsourcing have also noted that more H1-B visas are granted to companies headquartered in India than companies headquartered in the United States.[58]

Employment Authorization Document

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An Employment Authorization Document (EAD), EAD card, known popularly as a "work permit", is a document issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that provides its holder a legal right to work in the United States of America. It should not be confused with the green card. Certain 'aliens' (non-residents) who are temporarily in the United States may file a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to request an EAD. The Employment Authorization Document is issued for a specific period of time based on alien's immigration situation. If an alien possesses a valid EAD, he or she is authorized to freely work in the United States without their employer having to file a non-immigrant worker petition. Currently the EAD is issued in the form of a standard credit card-size plastic card enhanced with multiple security features. The EAD card contains some basic information about alien: name, birth date, sex, immigrant category, country of birth, photo, alien registration number (also called "Anumber"), card number, restrictive terms and conditions, and dates of validity. Foreign nationals with an EAD can lawfully work in the United States for any employer.

1 Restrictions 2 Obtaining an EAD 3 Interim EAD 4 See also 5 References 6 External links


The Eligibility for Employment Authorization is detailed in the Federal Regulations at 8 C.F.R. 274a.12.[1] Only immigrants who fall under the enumerated categories are eligible for an Employment Authorization Document. USCIS issues EADs in the following categories:

Renewal EAD: Renewal cannot be filed more than 120 days before the current employment authorization expires. Replacement EAD: Replaces a lost, stolen, or mutilated EAD. A replacement EAD also replaces an EAD that was issued with incorrect information, such as a misspelled name.


an EAD

Applicants would file Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) by mail with the USCIS Regional Service Center that serves the area where they live. They may also be eligible to file Form I-765 electronically (see USCIS Electronic Filing).


An Interim EAD is an EAD issued to an eligible applicant when USCIS has failed to adjudicate an application within 90 days of receipt of a properly filed EAD application or within 30 days of a properly filed initial EAD application based on an asylum application filed on or after January 4, 1995. The interim EAD will be granted for a period not to exceed 240 days and is subject to the conditions noted on the document. An interim EAD is no longer issued by local service centers. One can however take an INFOPASS appointment and place a service request at local centers, explicitly asking for it if the application exceeds 90 days without an adjudication.

Citizenship in the United States

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United States citizenship confers the right to acquire a U.S. passport.[1]

Citizenship in the United States is a status given to individuals that entails specific rights,duties, privileges, and benefits between the United States and the individual. Citizenship is a legal marker identifying a person as having a bundle of rights, including the right to live and work in the United States and to receive federal assistance and government services.[2] In accordance with the Citizenship Clause, part of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, citizenship may be acquired automatically at birth or through the process of naturalization: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." The Constitution, in Article One, gives to Congress the power "To establish a uniform rule of naturalization." Most persons who undergo naturalization do so to get permission to live and work in the nation legally. American law permits multiple citizenship, so a citizen of another country may retain their native citizenship after becoming a citizen of the United States. The reverse is not necessarily true, however; one cannot always maintain U.S. citizenship after attaining citizenship of another country.[3] Citizenship can be renounced by citizens,[4] and it can also be restored.[5]


1 Relation of citizenship
o o o o

1.1 Duties 1.2 Rights 1.3 Substantial benefits 1.4 Civic participation

2 Dual citizenship 3 History of citizenship in the United States 4 Birthright citizenship 5 Naturalized citizenship
o o o o

5.1 Agency in charge 5.2 Pathways to citizenship 5.3 Strong demand 5.4 Citizenship ceremonies

6 Honorary citizenship 7 Corporate citizenship 8 Controversies 9 See also 10 References 11 External links


of citizenship

The concept of citizenship has varied in different cultures and times. The Athenian citizen-soldier model required civic participation as well as a duty to fight as part of a well-coordinated phalanx. Roman citizenship was a prized distinction in the early years of the Republic which also entailed a military commitment. In the United States today, however, citizenship entails few commitments to other citizens or to government; there is no military requirement or call for civic participation. Rather, citizenship is the legal status of membership in the United States. Citizens have the right to live and work without fear of deportation. The activities typically associated with citizenship typically include duties and privileges.

Paying taxes is required for both citizens and non-citizens.

In the United States today, everyone except those whose income is derived from tax exempt revenue (Subchapter N, Section 861 of the US Tax Code) is required to pay taxes, and this has been the case for many years. The U.S. requires that aliens who are present in the United States, including non-immigrants and illegal immigrants, for more than 180 days must file tax returns.[6] American citizens are subject to taxes wherever they go in the world.[7]Since the United States requires citizens living abroad to file taxes, some Americans renounce their citizenship as a way to cope with the administrative burden of filing complex tax forms.[8] In 2003, there were 509 Americans who renounced citizenship.[8] In 2007, 470 Americans renounced their citizenship to move abroad.[7] One estimate was that the numbers of Americans turning in their passports each year for political and economic reasons was small, with the numbers reaching a high of about 2,000 during a Vietnam War-era boom in the 1970s.[8] One lawyer commented that the "administrative costs of being an American and living outside the U.S. have gone up dramatically."[8] One account suggested that increased "taxation is driving many Americans to turn in their passports."[8] But Congress passed rules to tax assets on so-called tax exiles or renunciators of American citizenship, who abandon US citizenship for tax purposes, as well as tax any heirs or beneficiaries of those people who still live

in the territorial United States.[7] According to a tax accountant, "The new rules say, if you leave any of your property to a U.S. person, it will be taxed at the rates for U.S. gift tax", which were 45% in 2008.[7]

U.S. citizens may be summoned to serve on a jury.

Jury duty is only imposed upon citizens. Jury duty may be considered the "sole differential obligation" between non-citizens and citizens; the federal and state courts "uniformly exclude noncitizens from jury pools today, and with the exception of a few states in the past, this has always been the case.[9] Today there are indications jury duty is declining;[10] there are fewer trials. Newspaper reports have chronicled the decline of juries, and noted how many people don't get summonses, and how Americans see jury duty as an "inconvenient" chore.[10] Military participation is not currently required in the United States, but a policy ofconscription of men has been in place at various times (both in war and in peace) in American history, most recently during the Vietnam War. Currently, the United States armed forces are a professional all-volunteer force, although both male U.S. citizens and male non-citizen permanent residents are required to register with the Selective Service System and may be called up in the event of a future draft. Johns Hopkins

Universitypolitical scientist Benjamin Ginsberg wrote "the professional military has limited the need for citizen soldiers."[2]

The U.S. military has been an all-volunteer force since the end of the Vietnam War but male U.S. citizens and non-citizens are still required to register for the military draft within 30 days of their 18th birthday.

Freedom to reside and work. United States citizens have the right to reside and work in the United States. Certain non-citizens, such as permanent residents, have similar rights. However, non-citizens, unlike citizens, may have the right taken away: for example, they may be deported if convicted of a serious crime. There are many jobs, opportunities, and educational opportunities. Some immigrants see citizenship as a way of "locking in economic gains that they have made as legal residents."[11] One person said "People dont feel that being permanent residents is enough to secure their future in this country. They would just feel more secure as citizens."[11] Freedom to enter and leave the United States. United States citizens have the right to enter and leave the United States freely. Certain non-citizens, such as permanent residents, have similar rights. Voting for federal office is restricted to citizens in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. States are not required to extend the franchise to all citizens: for example, several states bar citizen felons from voting, even after they have completed any custodial sentence. The United States Constitution bars states from restricting citizens from voting on grounds of race, color, previous condition of servitude, sex, failure to pay any tax, or age (for

citizens who are at least eighteen years old). Historically, many states and local jurisdictions have allowed non-citizens to vote; however, today this is limited to local elections in very few places. Voting is not required, unlike nations such as Australia and Belgium where citizens can be fined for failing to vote. Historically, voting rates in presidential elections by eligible citizens hover around the 50% level, although the recent election of Barack Obama in 2008 saw levels rise over 60%. Legal immigrants are sometimes motivated to become citizens for a chance to exercise voting power.[11]

Freedom to stand for public office. The United States Constitution requires that all members of the United States House of Representatives have been citizens for seven years, and that all senators have been citizens for nine years, before taking office. Most states have similar requirements: for example California requires that legislators have been citizens for three years, and the Governor have been a citizen for five years, upon taking office. The U.S. Constitution requires that one be "a natural born Citizen" and a U.S. resident for fourteen years in order to be President of the United States. The Constitution also stipulates that otherwise eligible citizens must be at least 35 years old to be eligible to be president, at least 25 years old to be a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and at least 30 years old to be a U.S. Senator.


Consular protection outside the United States. While traveling abroad, if a person is arrested or detained by foreign authorities, the person can request to speak to somebody from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Consular officials can provide resources for Americans incarcerated abroad, such as a list of local attorneys who speak English. The U.S. government may even intervene on the person's behalf.[12] For example, an American citizen named William E. Petty, who was jailed by authorities in France in 1854, petitioned U.S. authorities to intervene on his behalf.[13] In a twist of this principle, it's possible for foreign governments to confer citizenship on persons serving in jails in the United States.[14] But it illustrates how citizenship is

a way to try to extend the hand of protection to nationals when incarcerated in foreign jails.

Access to social services. Many social services in the United States are only[dubious discuss] eligible to American citizens.[12][not in
citation given]

Citizens can compete as athletes for the United States Olympics team; PresidentReagan with Olympian Mary Lou Retton in 1987.

Increased ability to sponsor relatives living abroad.[12] Several types of immigrant visas require that the person requesting the visa be directly related to a U.S. citizen. Having U.S. citizenship facilitates the granting of IR and F visas to family members. Protection from deportation.[11][12] Naturalized U.S. citizens are no longer consideredaliens and cannot be placed into deportation proceedings. Other benefits. The USCIS sometimes honors the achievements of naturalized U.S. citizens. The 'Outstanding American by Choice Award' was created by the USCIS to recognize the outstanding achievements of naturalized U.S. citizens, and past recipients include author Elie Wiesel who won

the Nobel Peace Prize; Indra K. Nooyi who is CEO ofPepsiCo; John Shalikashvili who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and others.[15]Further, citizenship status can affect which country an athlete can compete as a member of in competitions such as the Olympics.[16]


Civic participation is not required in the United States. There is no requirement to attend town meetings, read newspapers, stay informed about issues, belong to a political party, or write letters; citizens can stay home and do nothing if they choose. One source suggested that a benefit of naturalization is letting immigrants "participate fully in the civic life of the country."[12] There is disagreement about whether popular lack of involvement in politics is helpful or harmful. Vanderbilt professor Dana D. Nelson suggests that most Americans merely vote for president every four years, and that's all they do, and she sees this pattern as undemocratic. In her book Bad for Democracy, Nelson argues that declining citizen participation in politics is unhealthy for long term prospects for democracy. Generally, civic participation is almost nonexistent for wide swaths of the American public.[17] One 2009 study found that seven in ten citizens showed "declining civic involvement" nationally, and that citizens of Illinois were "disappointed, frustrated and disillusioned by recent political scandals and the pressures of the recession."[17] However, writers such as Robert D. Kaplan in The Atlantic see benefits to noninvolvement; he wrote "the very indifference of most people allows for a calm and healthy political climate."[18] Kaplan elaborated: "Apathy, after all, often means that the political situation is healthy enough to be ignored. The last thing America needs is more votersparticularly badly educated and alienated oneswith a passion for politics."[18] He argued that civic participation, in itself, is not always a sufficient condition to bring good outcomes, and pointed to authoritarian societies such as Singapore which prospered because it had "relative safety from corruption, from breach of contract, from property expropriation, and from bureaucratic inefficiency."[19]


Dual citizenship means persons can travel with two passports; the United States permits dual citizenship.

A person who is considered a citizen by more than one nation has dual citizenship. It is possible for a United States citizen to have dual citizenship, for example by birth in the United States to a parent who is a citizen of a foreign country. Anyone who becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen is required to renounce any prior citizenship during the naturalization ceremony;[20] however, this renunciation may not necessarily be considered effective by the country of prior citizenship. United States citizens are required by federal law to identify themselves with a U.S. passport, not with any foreign passport, when entering the US. The Supreme Court case of Afroyim v. Rusk declared that a U.S. citizen did not lose his citizenship by voting in an election in a foreign country, or by acquiring foreign citizenship, if such acts did not require him to explicitly renounce his U.S. citizenship. The concept of dual citizenship (while not unique to the U.S.) has been the subject of controversy in the U.S. Michael Barone in US News argued that "dual citizenship is a threat to the American tradition of patriotic assimilation" as well as possibly undermining American sovereignty,[21] while others have argued that the effects are less pernicious.[21] Americans who have dual citizenship do not lose their United States citizenship unless they renounce it officially.[22] When Mexico allowed people to become dual citizens, many Mexican-born American residents sought dual citizenship; in this case, dual citizenship with Mexico and the US. This dual status offers benefits such as the ability to own property anywhere in Mexico, and legal status to live and work in either country; but one drawback is that dual citizens cannot hold political office in

Mexico.[22] Before 1998, many Mexicans were reluctant to become United States citizens, fearing they would lose real estate, inheritances or businesses in Mexico.[22] In 2003 in the United States, there were 32.8 million Hispanics; of these, 21.7 million were from Mexico or had Mexican heritage; of these, 7.8 million had been born in Mexico; and of these, 1.6 million had become American citizens; of these, 30,000 had become dual citizens from 2000 to 2003.[22]

of citizenship in the United States

Citizenship began in colonial times as an active relation between people working cooperatively to solve municipal problems and participating actively in democratic decision-making, such as in New England town hall meetings. People met regularly to discuss local affairs and make decisions. These town meetings were described as the "earliest form of American democracy"[23] which was vital since citizen participation in public affairs helped keep democracy "sturdy", according to Alexis de Tocqueville in 1835.[24] A variety of forces changed this relation during the nation's history, including specialization of people into more focused roles which didn't include civic participation, government centralization, technological change, media exposure, prosperity, increased mobility making civic participation more difficult, and so forth. Attendance at town meetings dwindled.[25] Voting declined.[26] Citizenship became less defined by participation in politics and more defined as a legal relation with accompanying rights and privileges. While the realm of civic participation in the public sphere has shrunk,[27][28][29] the citizenship franchise has been expanded[30] to include not just propertied white adult men but African-American men[31] and adult women.[32] Thinkers such as Robert Kaplan,[33] Naomi Wolf,[29] Dana D. Nelson[34] and others have suggested that the decline of citizenship may pose problems for democracy in the future. Nevertheless, a continuing benefit of citizenship offers a chance to participate in a dynamic economic marketplace.


Main article: Birthright citizenship in the United States of America

U.S. citizenship is usually acquired by birth when a child is born in the territory of the United States. In addition to the U.S. States, this includes the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands.[35][36][37] This is provided under the 14th Amendment. Citizenship, however, was not specified in the original Constitution. It was not until 1868 that theFourteenth Amendment defined citizens as persons who were either born or naturalized in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction. All babies born in the United Statesexcept those born to enemy aliens in wartime or the children of foreign diplomats enjoy American citizenship under the Supreme Court's longstanding interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment.[38] It says: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."[38] Still, the amendment did not specify exactly what the relation of "citizenship" meant. Some, but not all, children born outside the United States with at least one U.S. citizen parent have birthright citizenship by parentage. While persons born in the United States are considered to be citizens and can have passports, children under age eighteen are legally considered to be minors and cannot vote or hold office. Upon the event of their eighteenth birthday, they are considered full citizens but there is no ceremony acknowledging this relation or any correspondence between the new citizen and the government to this effect. Citizenship is assumed to exist, and the relation is assumed to remain viable until death or until it is renounced or dissolved by some other legal process. While citizenship poses few requirements or duties, secondary schools teach the basics of citizenship and create "informed and responsible citizens" who are "skilled in the arts of effective deliberation and action."[39] Teachers try to encourage students to believe that "their ballots count."[39] However, there have been a few exceptions in which people born in the United States were not officially considered to be citizens. For example, in 1985, a renegade band of 143 Kickapoo Indians were naturalized; they had been living under an expressway bridge toPiedras Negras in Mexico.[40]

One controversial practice is maternity citizenship. It refers to the fact that babies born to foreign women while visiting the United States are automatically considered to have birthright citizenship.[41] It has been criticized as encouraging women to enter the country illegally to give birth to U.S. citizens; by one estimate, there were 400,000 so-called anchor babies born in 2008 of whom neither parent was a United States citizen.[41] The policy has been criticized further as an "antiquated practice" in which the baby becomes an "anchor" preventing deportation of "unlawfully present parents" and becomes an impediment to stabilizing the U.S. population.[41] However, proposals to further the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2009 (H.R. 1868) have been criticized as being "beside the point" and that the real reason for illegal immigration is based on the need for employment.[41] 2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney argued that birthright citizenship can lead to chain migration in which a child born in the US to illegal immigrants permits an entire family to become eligible for American citizenship as a result.[38] What is notable regarding this is that people seeking entry into the United States by virtue of a family member's citizenship still require a sponsor, and an anchor baby does not meet the financial qualifications to be a sponsor.[42]Constitutional scholars[who?] have debated whether it's possible to end birthright citizenship through legislation or whether it requires aconstitutional amendment.[38] But the opposite situation, in which an American couple adopted a foreign-born child, used to mean huge headaches after the adoption process in terms of getting the foreign-born child recognized as a citizen. However, the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, which took effect in February 2001, made it easier for parents adopting children in foreign countries to naturalize them.[43] Up until the law, "parents of youngsters adopted overseas were required to undergo a costly and cumbersome naturalization process that sometimes took two years to complete" in addition to usually complex international adoption procedures; the new law meant that 75,000 adopted foreign-born children automatically became citizens.[43] One estimate was that, in 2001, there were about 20,000 such adoptions every year, and the average wait for citizenship processing by the Immigration and Naturalization

Service had been two years.[43] But with the new law, that process will be shortened considerably. Americans who live in foreign countries and become members of other governments have, in some instances, been stripped of citizenship, although there have been court cases where decisions regarding citizenship have been reversed.[44]
[edit]Naturalized [edit]Agency


in charge

Albert Einstein received his certificate of American citizenship from Judge Phillip Forman.

The agency in charge of admitting new citizens is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, commonly abbreviated as USCIS.[45] It is a bureau of the Department of Homeland Security. It offers web-based services.[46] The agency depends on application fees for revenue; in 2009, with a struggling economy, applications were down sharply, and consequently there was much less revenue to upgrade and streamline services.[46] There was speculation that if the administration of president Barack Obama passes immigration reform, then the agency could face a "welcome but overwhelming surge of Americans-in-waiting" and longer processing times for citizenship applications.[46] The USCIS has made efforts to digitize records.[47] A USCIS website says the "U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is committed to offering the best possible service to you, our customer"[48]and which says "With our focus on customer service, we offer you a variety of services both before and after you file your case."[48] The website allowed applicants to estimate the length of time required to process specific types of cases, to check application status, and

to access a customer guide.[48] The USCIS processes cases in the order they're received.[48]

to citizenship

Requirements. People applying to become citizens must satisfy certain requirements. For example, there have been requirements for applicants to have lived in the nation for five years (three if married to a U.S. citizen,) be of "good moral character" meaning no felony convictions, be of "sound mind" in the judgment of immigration officials, have knowledge of the Constitution, and be able to speak and understand English unless they're elderly or disabled.[49]

Military service is often a key to citizenship; Aviation Machinist's Mate Elmer Rayos, right, receives his certificate of United States citizenship from the commanding officer of the USS George Washington.

Military participation is often a way for immigrant residents to become citizens. Since many people seek citizenship for its financial and social benefits, the promise of citizenship can be seen as a means of motivating persons to do dangerous activities such as fight in wars. For example, one account suggested the United States Military was recruiting "skilled immigrants who are living in this country with temporary visas" by promising an opportunity to become citizens "in as little as six months" in exchange for service in Afghanistan and Iraq where US forces are "stretched thin."[50] The option was not open to illegal immigrants.[50] One estimate was that in 2009 the US military had 29,000 foreign-born people currently serving who were not American citizens.[50]Generally, spouses of citizens, and non-citizens who served in the military, have less difficulty becoming citizens. Generally there is a strong link between military service and citizenship. One analyst noted that "many immigrants, not yet citizens, have volunteered to serve in the United States military forces ... Some have been killed and others wounded ... Perhaps this can be seen as a cynical attempt to qualify more easily for U.S. citizenship ... But I think that service in the U.S. military has to be taken as a pretty serious commitment to the United States."[21] Immigrant soldiers

who fight for the US often have an easier and faster path to citizenship.[51] In 2002, President Bush signed an executive order to eliminate the three-year waiting period and made service personnel immediately eligible for citizenship.[51] In 2003, Congress voted to "cut the waiting period to become a citizen from three years down to one year" for immigrants who had served in the armed forces.[51] In 2003, of 1.4 million service members, 37,000 active-duty members were not citizens, and of these, 20 percent had applied for citizenship.[51] By June 2003, 12 non-citizens had died fighting for the United States in the Iraqi war.[51] The military has had a tradition of "filling out its ranks" with aliens living in the U.S.[52] Non-citizens fought in World War II.[52] The military has struggled to "fill its depleted ranks" by recruiting more non-US citizens.[53] But there is considerable anxiety about using foreigners to serve in the U.S. armed forces. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was quoted as saying: "When Rome went out and hired mercenary soldiers, Rome fell."[52]

Grandparent rule. One obscure ruling of section 322 of a 1994 immigration law enabled persons to emigrate to the United States if they could prove that a grandparent was a citizen.[54] In 2006, there were 4,000 applications of citizenship through grandparents. While parents of any nationality can use the law, Israelis comprise 90% of those taking advantage of the clause.[54] Amnesties have happened in the past in which illegal residents could petition for citizenship if they could prove that they had been living in the nation for a specified number of years.[citation

Citizenship test. Last, applicants must pass a simple citizenship test.[49] Up until recently, a test published by the Immigration and Naturalization Service asked questions such as "How many stars are there in our flag?" and "What is the Constitution?" and "Who is the president of the United States today?"[49] At one point, the Government Printing Office sold flashcards for $8.50 to help test takers prepare for

the test.[55] In 2006, the government replaced the former trivia test with a ten-question oral test designed to "shun simple historical facts about America that can be recounted in a few words for more explanation about the principles of American democracy, such as freedom."[45] One reviewer described the new citizenship test as "thoughtful."[46] While some have criticized the new version of the test, officials counter that the new test is a "teachable moment" without making it conceptually more difficult, since the list of possible questions and answers, as before, will be publicly available.[45] Six correct answers constitutes a passing grade.[45] The new test probes for signs that immigrants "understand and share American values."[45]


According to a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, "Citizenship is a very, very valuable commodity."[56] However, one study suggested legal residents eligible for citizenship, but who don't apply, tend to have low incomes (41 percent), do not speak English well (60 percent), or have low levels of education (25 percent).[12] There is strong demand for citizenship based on the numbers of applications filed.[56] From 1920 to 1940, the number of immigrants to the United States who became citizens numbered about 200,000 each year; there was a spike after World War II, and then the level reduced to about 150,000 per year until resuming to the 200,000 level beginning about 1980.[57] In the mid-1990s to 2009, the levels rose to about 500,000 per year with considerable variation.[57] In 1996, more than one million people became citizens through naturalization.[58] In 1997, there were 1.41 million applications filed; in 2006, 1.38 million.[56] In the mid-1990s, the number of naturalized citizens in the United States rose from 6.5 million to 11 million in 2002.[59] By 2003, the pool of immigrants eligible to become naturalized citizens was 8 million, and of these, 2.7 million lived in California.[59] In 2003, the number of new citizens from naturalization was 463,204.[11] In 2007, the number was 702,589.[11] In 2007, 1.38 million people applied for citizenship creating a backlog.[56] In 2008, applications decreased to 525,786.[56] Naturalization fees were $60 in 1989; $90 in 1991; $95 in 1994; $225 in 1999; $260 in 2002; $320 in 2003; $330 in

2005.[60] Application fees were increased from $330 to $595 and an additional $80 computerized fingerprinting fee was added.[56] The high fees have been criticized as putting up one more wall to citizenship.[45] Increases in fees for citizenship have drawn criticism.[61] Doris Meissner, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute and former Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner, doubted that fee increases deter citizenshipseekers.[56] In 2009, the number of immigrants applying for citizenship plunged 62 percent; reasons cited were the slowing economy and the cost of naturalization.[56]


The citizenship process has been described as a ritual that is meaningful for many immigrants.[45] Many new citizens are sworn in during Fourth of July ceremonies.[11] Most citizenship ceremonies take place at offices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.[5] However, one swearing-in ceremony was held at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia in 2008.[5] The judge who chose this venue explained: "I did it to honor our country's warriors and to give the new citizens a sense for what makes this country great."[5]According to federal law, citizenship applicants who are also changing their names must appear before a federal judge.[5]


Polish Count Kazimierz Pulaski was awarded with the honorary distinction ofcitizen 230 years after he fought and died in the Revolutionary War.

The title of "Honorary Citizen of the United States" has been granted seven times by an act of Congress or by a proclamation issued by the President pursuant to authorization granted by Congress. The seven individuals are Sir Winston Churchill, Raoul Wallenberg, William Penn, Hannah Callowhill Penn, Mother Teresa, the Marquis de Lafayette, and Casimir Pulaski. Sometimes, the government awarded non-citizen immigrants who died fighting for American forces with the posthumous title of U.S. citizenship, but this is not considered honorary citizenship.[51] In June 2003, Congress approved legislation to help families of fallen non-citizen soldiers.[51]


There is a sense in which corporations can be considered as "citizens." Since corporationsare often thought of as individuals in the eyes of the law, then it is possible to think of corporations as being like citizens. For example, the airline Virgin America asked the United States Department of Transportation to be treated as an American air carrier.[62] The advantage of "citizenship" is having the protection and support of the United States government when jockeying with foreign governments for access to air routes and overseas airports.[62] A competitor of Virgin America called Alaska Airlines asked for a review of the situation; according to "U.S. law, foreign ownership in a U.S. air carrier is limited to 25% of the voting interest in the carrier", but executives at Virgin America insisted the airline met this requirement.[62] For the purposes of diversity jurisdiction in United States civil procedure, corporate citizenship is determined by the principal place of business of the corporation. There is some degree of disagreement among legal authorities as to how exactly this may be determined. Another sense of "corporate citizenship" is a way to show support for causes such as social issues and the environment and, indirectly, gain a kind of "reputational advantage."[63]


The issue of citizenship naturalization is a highly contentious matter in American politics, particularly regarding illegal immigrants. Candidates in the 2008 presidential election such as Rudolph Giuliani tried to "carve out a middle ground" on the issue of illegal immigration, but rivals such as John McCain advocated legislation requiring illegal immigrants to first leave the country before being eligible to apply as citizens.[64] Some measures to require proof of citizenship at polling places have met with controversy.[65] In the past, some rulings have prevented homosexuals from entering the nation and applying for citizenship.[66] Issues such as whether to include questions about current citizenship status in census questions have been debated in the Senate.[49]Generally, there tends to be controversy when citizenship impacts political issues. For example, issues such as asking questions about citizenship on the United States Census tend to cause controversy.[67] Census data affects state electoral clout; it also affects budgetary allocations.[67] There have been controversies based on speculation about which way newly naturalized citizens are likely to vote. Since immigrants from many countries have been presumed to vote Democratic if naturalized, there have been efforts by Democratic administrations to streamline citizenship applications before elections to increase turnout; Republicans, in contrast, have exerted pressure to slow down the process.[68] In 1997, there were efforts to strip the citizenship of 5,000 newly approved immigrants who, it was thought, had been "wrongly naturalized"; a legal effort to do this presented enormous challenges.[68] An examination by the Immigration and Naturalization Service of 1.1 million people who were granted citizenship from September 1995 to September 1996 found 4,946 cases in which a criminal arrest should have disqualified an applicant or in which an applicant lied about his or her criminal history.[68] Before the 2008 election, there was controversy about the speed of the USCIS in processing applications; one report suggested that the agency would complete 930,000 applications in time for the newly processed citizens to

vote in the November 2008 election.[69] Foreign-born naturalized citizens tend to vote at the same rates as natives. For example, in the state of New Jersey in the 2008 election, the foreign born represented 20.1 percent of the state's population of 8,754,560; of these, 636,000 were eighteen or older and hence eligible to vote; of eligible voters, 396,000 actually voted, which was about 62%.[70] So foreign-born citizens vote in roughly the same proportion (62%) as native citizens (67%).[70] There has been controversy about the agency in charge of citizenship. The USCIS has been criticized as being a "notoriously surly, inattentive bureaucracy" with long backlogs in which "wouldbe citizens spent years waiting for paperwork."[46] Rules made by United States Congress and the federal government regarding citizenship are highly technical and often confusing, and the agency is forced to cope with enforcement within a complex regulatory milieu. There have been instances in which applicants for citizenship have been deported on technicalities.[71] One Pennsylvania doctor and his wife, both from the Philippines who applied for citizenship, and one Mr. Darnell from Canada who was married to an American with two children from this marriage, ran afoul of legal technicalities and faced deportation.[71] The New York Times reported that "Mr. Darnell discovered that a 10-year-old conviction for domestic violence involving a former girlfriend, even though it had been reduced to a misdemeanor and erased from his public record, made him ineligible to become a citizenor even to continue living in the United States."[71] Overworked federal examiners under pressure to make "quick decisions" as well as "weed out security risks" have been described as preferring "to err on the side of rejection."[71] In 2000, 399,670 applications were denied (about 1/3 of all applications); in 2007, 89,683 applications for naturalization were denied, about 12 percent of those presented.[71] Generally, eligibility for citizenship is denied for the millions of people living in the United States illegally, although from time to time, there have been amnesties. In 2006, there were mass protests numbering hundreds of thousands of people throughout the US demanding U.S. citizenship for illegal immigrants.[72] Many carried banners which read "We Have A Dream Too."[72] One

estimate is that there are 12 million illegal immigrants in the USA in 2006.[72] There are many American high school students with citizenship issues.[73] One estimate is that there are 65,000 illegal immigrant students in 2008.[73] A 1982 Supreme Court decision entitled illegal immigrants to free education from kindergarten through high school.[73] But it is less clear about post-secondary education. Illegal aliens who get caught in the gears of the justice system face horrendous odds; for example, if their lawyer makes a mistake during a hearing, they have no constitutional right to challenge the outcome of their deportation hearings.[74] Writer Tom Barry of theBoston Review criticizes the crackdown against illegal immigrants since it has "flooded the federal courts with nonviolent offenders, besieged poor communities, and dramatically increased the U.S. prison population, while doing little to solve the problem itself."[75]Barry criticizes the United States' high incarceration rate as being "fives times greater than the average rate in the rest of the world."[75]Virginia Senator Jim Webb agreed that we are "doing something dramatically wrong in our criminal justice system."[75]