Go to contents

Elevated Walls for American Citizenship and Residency

Posted November. 15, 2006 03:02,   


More immigrants are requesting American citizenship and permanent residency, but the U.S. government is constantly intensifying the procedures; this raises concerns for the Korean community within the U.S.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to acquire citizenship as well as permanent residency due to the complicated procedures, so as a result, the number of “Koreans on the waiting list” who have already applied for either citizenship or residency but have not been successful yet is increasing.

Moreover, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is investigating a plan to invalidate “permanent residency,” which was published from 1979 to 1988, and instead issue 10-year residency to immigrants. If this plan is approved, it will expel immigrants with criminal records while examining the reissuing of residency, hereby increasing the anxiety of many Korean or Hispanic immigrants living in the U.S.

The USCIS is also increasing the scrutiny of the applicants’ backgrounds, and is moving forward with a plan to utilize biometric technology when issuing 10-year residency permits.

Increased procedures to acquire American citizenship and residency are considered to reflect the altered domestic atmosphere on immigration after 9/11.

It has become more difficult to acquire citizenship, which previously was automatically issued to immigrants who committed no crime for a specified period after acquiring residency. “The test will now include the American Constitution and Bill of Rights, as well as American history as before, to make the test more meaningful,” said a USCIS officer. It implies that the citizenship test will become more complicated.

It is known that the new test will be conducted starting from this winter as a test in New York, California, Texas, Arizona, and some parts in Washington.

“Documents pertaining to immigrants applying for residency after the USCIS procedures will be submitted on a grand scale. It can lengthen the time needed to obtain residency or might even make the subjects unable to acquire it,” stated the State Department regarding the status of issuing work/immigration visa on October 10.

Furthermore, it has been found that 26,562 Koreans acquired permanent residency last year in the U.S., according to the Immigrants Residence Acquisition Status published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In addition, there are 1,246,280 Korean people living in the U.S. with citizenship or residency, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s announcement in 2005.

kong@donga.com srkim@donga.com