White House Announces New Measures Under Citizenship Initiative
The Obama administration recently announced several new measures as part of its citizenship initiative. For example, on September 19, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting and processing credit card payments for the naturalization application and biometrics fee. Previously, the fees could only be paid with a check or money order.
USCIS also said it is entering into a formal partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the Farm Service Agency to provide temporary office space for USCIS officers in agricultural and rural communities that have significant numbers of immigrants but are not located near a USCIS office. Services under this pilot program will include biometrics collection, interviews for applications or petitions, informational appointments, and general presentations on immigration benefits.
USCIS also has begun live question-and-answer sessions on Twitter with USCIS experts answering non-case-specific questions.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics estimates that 8.8 million permanent residents (green card holders) are eligible to apply for citizenship. A recent analysis showed that the median time spent as a permanent resident before becoming a U.S. citizen was seven years. USCIS noted that green card holders who meet all eligibility requirements may apply for citizenship after five years, or after three years if they are married to a U.S. citizen.