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Report: FL Citizenship Backlogs Among the Highest

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Monday, August 11, 2008   

Jacksonville, FL – Would-be U.S. citizens in Florida have some of the longest waits in the country, according to a new report from the National Immigration Forum that documents the naturalization application backlog. The wait for citizenship paperwork to be processed can take as long as five years, in some cases. However, the average wait in Florida is 10 to 14 months - which is double that of most other states.

At least some of the backlog is because more people have applied for U.S. citizenship in recent year, in part, to beat a steep fee increase.

Report author Rosalind Gold says the biggest frustration for applicants is the lack of communication.

"You never know when there are going to be new obstacles you'll have to get over. You never know when it's going to come to a grinding halt and you're just going to be left in limbo."

She says those with pending applications are only allowed to ask about them once every six months, and she found they rarely get answers beyond what they already know - 'Your case is pending.'

Since becoming a citizen usually means giving up citizenship in one's home country, Gold believes the U.S. should acknowledge the importance of the decision.

"When people take that step, it's at a point when they should be seeing the best face of our government, not the worst. We could do a better job of welcoming people to America."

The report praises the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service for hiring more employees recently in an attempt to cope with the backlog, and finds that some applications are being held up because of FBI background checks. It can be viewed online at www.immigrationforum.org.




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