Every seventh U.S. resident is a foreigner, according to the 2018 American Community Survey (ACS). Every year about 800,000 people are granted U.S. citizenship. In all, there are about 44.7 million immigrants living in the U.S., more than half of them naturalized. 21% of all immigrants moved to this country between 1990 and 1999, 30% before 1990, and 48% of migrants, or about 20 million people, moved to the U.S. between 2000 and 2018.
Getting permanent residency aka a green card is the first step to U.S. citizenship. A green card can be gained through four main ways: through a family relationship, employment sponsorship, humanitarian protection (refugees and asylum seekers), and the Diversity Visa (DV) lottery (also known as the Green Card Lottery).
Only immediate family members such as spouses, children, siblings, or parents of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident are eligible for this type of Green Card. In 2018, 44% out of 1.1 million immigrants awarded green cards in 2018 were immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.
Your employer shall cover all costs of the application and your stay. You must work for that company until your contract expires. Some 150,000 people awarded this type of green card have either been sponsored by their employers or have petitioned themselves, including investors who create jobs.
Every year, the President consults with Congress to set an annual cap on refugee admissions and allocations by region of origin. The annual cap was set at 30,000 for fiscal year 2019 and 18,000 for fiscal year 2020. 30,000 refugees, i.e. the annual cap, were resettled in the United States in fiscal year 2019
Every year, the United States runs a visa lottery for the countries with low numbers of immigrants to the United States. If you apply for this lottery and get a visa, you are eligible for a green card.
In fiscal year 2018, 45,350 people from countries with low numbers of immigrants to the U.S. received a green card as diverse immigrants, roughly 4% of the total green cards issued.
Requirements for U.S. citizenship
- You must be at least 18 years old at the time of application.
- Be a green card holder for at least 5 years.
- Reside continuously in the U.S. for at least 5 years before you apply.
- Physically reside in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of 5 years.
- Reside in the state in which you are applying for at least 3 months.
- Can speak, read, and write in English.
- Know the history and social studies.
- Respect the Constitution of the United States.
- Have committed no serious felonies.
- Take the oath of office.
- Your applications must be made to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).