U.S. Law Center

A look at citizenship and the upcoming election

Immigrants who live in California may wish to become naturalized citizens of the United States for many reasons. One of the benefits of becoming a citizen is the right to vote. Since 2016 is an election year, and one with divisive issues and candidates at that, interest in citizenship has increased.

According to TIME Magazine, the number of immigrants applying for citizenship is usually higher during election years and 2016 seems to be following that trend. In fact, this year saw 6 percent more applications than the previous election year of 2012. Internet searches on the topic surged in January of this year, particularly among Spanish speakers. While Republican nominee Donald Trump has taken some controversial positions regarding Latino immigrants, no direct link between his candidacy and the increased interest in citizenship has been established.

Immigrants must first obtain a green card prior to becoming a citizen. Securing a green card does not, however, automatically mean that person will go on to become a citizen. Immigrants can become eligible for citizenship after three years if they marry a U.S. citizen, according to LifeZette. Otherwise, eligibility kicks in five years after a person obtains their green card.

Reportedly, efforts are being made to push many of the new applications through prior to the election on Nov. 8. The rush to approve applications is a partisan effort to increase votes for the Democratic nominee, some allege. It also raises a security concern, they argue, as rushing through the process may mean that some people could get approved who upon further scrutiny, would have been denied.

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