Tens of thousands of Texas residents are caught in a growing backlog of applications for US citizenship. The amount of time it takes to gain citizenship in Texas has more than doubled in some cases. During the last Presidential election, thousands of legal permanent Texas residents applied for US citizenship, an increase not uncommon during election campaigns, but the growing application backlog is becoming a pressure point within the US immigration system.
Lawyers working with people applying for naturalization across Texas fear that the backlog, which is currently impacting thousands of the state’s legal permanent residents, many of whom have been in the US for decades, reflects the change in the system that is crucial to the immigration policies of the nation.
Applications for naturalization from green card holders increased dramatically before the 2016 election, resulting in a surge in the state’s applications backlog, but the increase continued during the Trump administration’s first six months, and the number of applications pending escalated. The Texas backlog was around 103,300 applications on 31 March 2018, according to the latest available federal count, a rise of around 30,500 from the same date in 2017.
With federal immigration officials also having undergone administrative changes, the backlog has resulted in a significant expansion of the processing time for applications sent to the five US Citizenship and Immigration Services branches in the Texas region, going from around five to six months in 2016, to up to 12 months or longer today.