Nearly a million immigrant adults were naturalized as American citizens in fiscal year 2022, the third-highest annual tally recorded in U.S. history, according to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) report published on Wednesday.
In the 12-month period that ended Sept. 30, 967,400 adults swore the oath of allegiance at naturalization ceremonies across the country, the USCIS figures show. When taking into account cases of children who derived citizenship from their U.S.-citizen parents and other naturalization cases, a total of 1,023,200 immigrants became U.S. citizens in fiscal year 2022.
The number of adult immigrants who became U.S. citizens was only greater in 1996 and 2008, when 1,040,991 and 1,046,539 adults were naturalized, respectively, historical government statistics show.
Most naturalized citizens gain citizenship after living in the U.S. as permanent residents for three or five years, depending how they secured legal residency. Those who serve in the military can qualify for a special, fast-track naturalization process. Applicants are also generally required to prove they can read, write and speak English, and understand U.S. history and the system of government.
Unlike permanent residents, immigrants with U.S. citizenship can vote in federal elections, obtain American passports and sponsor family members to come to the U.S. through an expedited process. The top five countries of birth of immigrants who became naturalized U.S. citizens in fiscal year 2022 were Mexico, India, the Philippines, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, according to the USCIS data.
The 14-year high in naturalizations comes a year after President Biden directed federal agencies to promote naturalizations by eliminating bureaucratic barriers in the citizenship process, speeding up case adjudications and developing a government-wide strategy to encourage eligible immigrants to become citizens.