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How to become a U.S. citizen flowchart
January 10, 2011 11:26 AM   Subscribe

Need a quick and dirty explanation of what the process is like to become a U.S. citizen? Check out this flowchart, courtesy of the Reason Foundation.

The more vanilla version here for folks who don't mix cutesy graphics with their immigration reform commentary. [via]

More information from Wikipedia about green cards and the green card lottery. And an article on green cards in soccer.
posted by jng (76 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've always wanted to become a U.S. citizen flowchart.
posted by The Thnikkaman at 11:28 AM on January 10, 2011 [20 favorites]


Genuine question: Are other countries any better?
posted by schmod at 11:29 AM on January 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


The secret backdoor for Canadians who want to live and work in the USA without going for citizenship.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:33 AM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Its 3 years to become a British citizen if you are married to one.
As the spouse of a lawful UK resident, I can become a British citizen in 6 years.

The above two from the flowchart for the US are: 6-7 and 10-13
posted by vacapinta at 11:34 AM on January 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I went on a bike trip last year and met with someone who facilitates foreigners "investing" $1 million in real estate, in exchange for citizenship.

So long as the money doesn't move around (the investment doesn't get sold for some stretch of time), the Feds are kept happy, and so long as the investment keeps its value, the new citizens are kept happy.

We entered the US with visas and became permanent residents through my dad's work, so I found it a bit weird to allow people to more or less buy their way in and bypass the visa and Green Card routes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:35 AM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy suck.com flashback.

Schmod: yes.
posted by benzenedream at 11:35 AM on January 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


...so I found it a bit weird to allow people to more or less buy their way in and bypass the visa and Green Card routes.

Why did you? Rich people obviously aren't any danger to the US.
posted by DU at 11:37 AM on January 10, 2011


So maybe the Libertarians at Reason might try supporting candidates in favor of immigration reform instead of always backing the candidates who promise to cut taxes?
posted by octothorpe at 11:37 AM on January 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


This is missing the apply for refugee status with a financial sponsor approach, which did the trick for me and a lot of other Soviet Jews. I was 9 years old, so I don't know what hoops my parents jumped through to make it work. (One of these days I'll have to ask.) But I'm eternally grateful to them and the US-of-A.

Yeah, I'm one of those happy, flag-waving, assimilated immigrants with a deeply ingrained and virtually unshakable patriotism. Somehow it hasn't turned me into a Republican.
posted by eugenen at 11:38 AM on January 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Previously on MeFi (original flowchart is a 404)
posted by mkb at 11:42 AM on January 10, 2011


So maybe the Libertarians at Reason might try supporting candidates in favor of immigration reform instead of always backing the candidates who promise to cut taxes?

Um ... the two issues aren't mutually exclusive.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:42 AM on January 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Schmod:

In Belgium you need to live there for three years, even residing there an going to school count. So you can go and get a get an undergrad degree and an EU passport. Downside is then you become legally Belgian. I know a few people who've done this.

France is quite easy as well. Again time in school counts towards the residence time. I've seen Americans pull all kinds of immigration shenanigans and end up with passports that would get people sent to gitmo in a hurry in the US.

Benzenedream:
Immigration Canada needs a way more complicated flow chart, behold the magnificent can you live in Canada points calculator.
posted by metsauce at 11:43 AM on January 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I went on a bike trip last year and met with someone who facilitates foreigners "investing" $1 million in real estate, in exchange for citizenship.

Less if you invest in a distressed area. $500k in Detroit will do you just fine.
posted by atrazine at 11:43 AM on January 10, 2011


Ack, sorry, didn't catch the double. Feel free to bring this down if it violates the code.
posted by jng at 11:44 AM on January 10, 2011


Less if you invest in a distressed area. $500k in Detroit will do you just fine.

It's kind of a misnomer to call that an investment, doesn't it? It seems to just be a payoff to get the citizenship.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:49 AM on January 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


In Mexico, being married to a mexican citizen, can result in citizenship in 5 years.
posted by dhruva at 11:50 AM on January 10, 2011


blue_beetle: TN status is nice and easy, but it's a bit like renting US residency. You have to renew every year and every year it's possible that your landlord might just say, "hey, thanks for the taxes and everything, but I decided this year that I just don't like you, so I'd like for you to leave. Good luck with finding a new place!"

I was a TN for something like 10 years and folks at the border started giving my girlfriend and I some grief over it. "Like, you know this isn't intended to be a permanent visa, right? " "so, hey, are you considering getting a Green Card?"

so, now we're both weathering the LPR/employment-based Green Card gauntlet, and good god, it's almost enough to make one throw their hands up and say, "fine, you can have your stupid, dysfunctional, paranoid little country. I only liked it because my neighbors and co-workers were awesome."

Schmod: My family immigrated to Canada instead of the US originally after making a go of US residency for a year and found the Canadian model so much easier and more humane.
posted by bl1nk at 11:52 AM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


We've brought a few people into Canada via the points system and my brother-in-law has used the provincial nomination system for farm workers. In both cases, it takes 3-5 years total to citizenship, but only 2-3 years to permanent residence status. It doesn't seem to be super complicated (if qualified) or particularly expensive.
posted by bonehead at 11:56 AM on January 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


benzenedream: Holy suck.com flashback.

Yes, Terry Colon is good.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:57 AM on January 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


The H-1B Visa cap was not reached last year. 11,000 of the 65,000 visa's were vacant.
posted by humanfont at 11:58 AM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


It bothers me that there's a need for flowcharts like this, as it means those of us born with American citizenship don't think twice about how anyone gets it. I found myself having to explain the contents of the citizenship test in one of my classes a year or two back (it was a language class--immigration inevitably comes up) based on hazy memories of helping my mother study in the early 1990s. Apparently, none of my classmates had ever bothered to ask someone what the test was like (or none of them knew naturalised citizens). Some of them weren't aware there was a citizenship test.
posted by hoyland at 12:02 PM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


ZenMasterThis: "So maybe the Libertarians at Reason might try supporting candidates in favor of immigration reform instead of always backing the candidates who promise to cut taxes?

Um ... the two issues aren't mutually exclusive
"

Not in theory but in general Republicans are in favor of cutting taxes and not reforming immigration. And while Libertarians talk a good game about being independent, all of the ones I know end up voting for the Republican nine times out of ten because of taxes.
posted by octothorpe at 12:03 PM on January 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


> Are other countries any better?

It took me 4½ years from sending in the forms to becoming a Canadian citizen. We did all the paperwork ourselves, and got our visas in a now unthinkably fast three months.
posted by scruss at 12:04 PM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


It bothers me that there's a need for flowcharts like this, as it means those of us born with American citizenship don't think twice about how anyone gets it.

I think that's the point.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:04 PM on January 10, 2011


If you're coming to the US from Cuba you just need to make it ashore.
posted by oddman at 12:07 PM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


It bothers me that there's a need for flowcharts like this, as it means those of us born with American citizenship don't think twice about how anyone gets it.

Why would they? People only have so much RAM. If you've got it, and you don't know anyone that wants it and doesn't have it, and you're not interested or involved in politics or immigration law then what is the point of having that information?
posted by doublehappy at 12:22 PM on January 10, 2011


metsauce: "France is quite easy as well. Again time in school counts towards the residence time. "

brb, learning french.
posted by Memo at 12:33 PM on January 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Its 3 years to become a British citizen if you are married to one.
As the spouse of a lawful UK resident, I can become a British citizen in 6 years.

The above two from the flowchart for the US are: 6-7 and 10-13


No, you can become a US citizen in 3 years if you're married to one. It's in parenthesis in the flowchart, but it's there.
posted by ob at 12:34 PM on January 10, 2011


For me it took about 7 years and $7,000 in legal fees to become a US citizen via H1B and then marriage. Immigration by any name, any where, seems to be a pretty typical government institution but with some nastier types nearer the enforcement edge.

In the US it seems to be full of people whose attitudes caused them to fail the exam to become a police officer.

~Matt
posted by mdoar at 12:44 PM on January 10, 2011


In China, you can all fuck off, you foreign bastards!* One thing we're not short of is people.

*Article 7 of the Nationality Law only there for comedy value. Marry a Chinese citizen and have access to a lifetime of renewed visitor visas. Certain old heroines and heroes of the revolution excepted. The odd stateless person caught in the embassy after regime change back home tolerated.
posted by Abiezer at 12:48 PM on January 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Genuine question: Are other countries any better?

In general, yes. Most MeFi immigration threads die within hours, so forgive me for just suggesting you use search engine, rather than spending the whole afternoon writing up research on the topic. At some point I'll either do an FPP or a web page comparing policies and outcomes internationally.

The biggest problem with the US system is the implicit assumption that the US is divinely blessed or otherwise at the top of the pile, and is thus beset by an unusually high number of people who want to come here and take our stuff. This was arguably true for quite a while following world war 2, but outside of the 5 most populated states the US actually has a quite low population density and many economists/demographers would argue the country needs more people to ensure long-term equilibrium.

If you've got it, and you don't know anyone that wants it and doesn't have it, and you're not interested or involved in politics or immigration law then what is the point of having that information?

In order to be an informed voter? I'm more interested in politics than most people, but still think people should be more engaged with such civic issues, because those who are unaware of the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it, usually at some maximally inconvenient time. Adjusting current US policy in this area has the potential to significantly alter the direction of the economy for example, in both good ways and bad. So I suggest learning more about it would be in everyone's economic interest, albeit indirectly.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:55 PM on January 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


It's kind of a misnomer to call that an investment, doesn't it? It seems to just be a payoff to get the citizenship.

Sort of. I think there used to be a requirement to create 20 jobs with your investment, so it had to be an actual business, not just a million dollars worth of house. IIRC enforcement of this part of it has slacked somewhat under a certain previous US administration.

Anyway though, yes it basically is a payoff.
posted by atrazine at 12:58 PM on January 10, 2011


I got my greencard within three years back in the 90s, after marrying a US citizen. Never bothered to apply for citizenship. Every once in a while (usually every 4 years, coinciding with presidential elections) I consider applying, but I have yet to follow through. I like to think of it as a kind of an implicit threat to the country: if you guys don't clean up your act this time, I'll become a citizen and show you how to vote.
posted by monospace at 1:02 PM on January 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


It seems to just be a payoff to get the citizenship.

Pretty much, yeah, although you can get it back later -- so it's not like you're paying it as a fee exactly. It's a sort of roundabout way of only allowing wealthy people (and their money!) in.

The underlying logic isn't complicated, though. If you're rich enough to invest $1M or even $500k, presumably you're not going to become a liability and end up drawing on social services. In Canada I think they get around the same issue by just having potential immigrants on some types of visas explicitly post a bond, which seems like a better solution.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:12 PM on January 10, 2011


Why would they? People only have so much RAM. If you've got it, and you don't know anyone that wants it and doesn't have it, and you're not interested or involved in politics or immigration law then what is the point of having that information?

As far as I can tell, an awful lot of people are forming their political positions on immigration without actually knowing anything about it. Most people don't need to walk around knowing how to get a green card or how long it takes (I certainly don't--I read the link an hour ago and have forgotten already), but I'd hope things would be better if the average person understood you don't just send away for one whenever you feel like it and are assured to get a green card in 6 to 8 weeks or whatever.
posted by hoyland at 1:12 PM on January 10, 2011


I figure letting rich people in also avoids the problem of them unleashing expensive lawyers on the system to find the loopholes anyway.
posted by smackfu at 1:14 PM on January 10, 2011


France is quite easy as well. Again time in school counts towards the residence time.

No it doesn't always, only if you're enrolled directly in the French university (good luck doing that from overseas) and get a French degree (as in "from France", not necessarily in French language and/or literature, eh). It doesn't count if you're an exchange student from a US university studying for a US degree, for instance.

I just got my French citizenship at Christmas (no joke!). I'd applied a year ago, had my interview a few months later, and it was basically okayed then, but needed the official OK of the Minister of Immigration and-whatever-they've-added-to-that-ministry-name-lately (it keeps changing). I got it by "naturalization", i.e. I'd lived here long enough for it, paid my taxes, and a few other unspoken requirements: property ownership, fluent French, knowledge of French history, and, very important, appreciation of France's dedication to human rights, even if it is more idealistic than shown in reality lately. You can also get it by marriage (though this gets increasingly strict), or, of course, by being the child of a French citizen. Official details here, in French.

For naturalization, you need to be a famous person who wants to stay in France, and who brings glory to France (only slightly overstating — think sports stars, same deal in the US), or have lived in France for 2 consecutive years as a student, or for 5 consecutive years, which is not as easy as it sounds. To do that, you need to have either enrolled in a French university, and fulfilled all the financial requirements that entails (proof you can afford your entire stay, accommodation included, and you have to find concrete accommodation before anything about your stay is confirmed), and then get the degree, spending at least 2 years studying for it. Or, for the 5-year option, get a job and keep it for 5 years while renewing your immigration papers once a year. Good luck getting a job, especially if you don't speak much French. Also, work for non-French companies is not viewed kindly by immigration officials. The guy who interviewed me was overjoyed, for instance, when I spoke fluent French and showed that I work for a French company. As well as owned my apartment and paid my taxes.

Easier than getting US citizenship? Yes. Easy? No.
posted by fraula at 1:15 PM on January 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


In the US it seems to be full of people whose attitudes caused them to fail the exam to become a police officer.

I think you must mean ICE's border control officers? My limited experiences with USCIS, through the Dallas field office, was that it was full of... immigrants.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:17 PM on January 10, 2011


My father, a longtime green card holder, happened to have his interview scheduled for the same day the U.S. declared a national day of mourning for Gerald Ford. He'd already completed all his paperwork and his finger printing, and I believe this was the last step. Because the offices were closed that day, their website notified applicants that they'd be receiving a call to reschedule in the near future. After two months with no call, my dad decided to reschedule himself. His new interview date was approximately six weeks away. He showed up at their offices only to be informed that his finger prints had expired and because of this, they couldn't conduct the interview.

Can someone please educate me as to how the fuck an adult's finger prints can expire?
posted by gman at 1:23 PM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not in theory but in general Republicans are in favor of cutting taxes and not reforming immigration. And while Libertarians talk a good game about being independent, all of the ones I know end up voting for the Republican nine times out of ten because of taxes.

Please take this obnoxious derail to MeTa. What the "Libertarians you know" end up voting for is totally irrelevant to the content of this interesting flowchart or, for that matter, anything on Reason, which is consistently one of the most interesting and intelligent political publications on the Web. It's this kind of bullshit that makes political discussion on here such an echo chamber.
posted by nasreddin at 1:33 PM on January 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is a great flowchart. I used a giant version of it at a recent press conference on legal resident municipal voting.
posted by Vectorcon Systems at 1:34 PM on January 10, 2011


Why would they? People only have so much RAM. If you've got it, and you don't know anyone that wants it and doesn't have it, and you're not interested or involved in politics or immigration law then what is the point of having that information?

Because every day people literally risk their lives to come to this country because they want what we take for granted. We live in a democratic society, so these laws are, at their core, our responsibility. We ought to have some basic understanding of what hoops we're asking people to jump through, especially before mouthing off about border fences and immigrants taking our jobs and other things that are directly related to these policies. It seems like the least we can do to have a bit of a clue why people are drowning in our rivers and dying of dehydration in our deserts.
posted by zachlipton at 1:43 PM on January 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


on less compassionate and more pragmatic grounds: attracting ambitious, talented and smart people to your country is important in maintaining the competitiveness of your industries and businesses. America enjoyed an advantage in this case in the late 20th century, but that advantage has been eroded by the stabilization of various Asian and South American nations, the maturation of the EU and the relative prosperity of Commonwealth countries like Canada, and Australia. The advantage has been all but abandoned in the steady decline into xenophobic paranoia that was brought about by 9/11.

It's certainly possible that you can maintain your global competitiveness by improving education, encouraging entrepeneurship and investing in your technological infrastructure; but you handicap yourselves at your peril by closing the doors of your nation to people who want to share in your lives and make all of you richer for it.
posted by bl1nk at 2:00 PM on January 10, 2011


I'm in the UK on a Tier 1 visa, grandfathered in from a Highly Skilled Migrant visa I got in 2006. I'd normally be on track to Indefinite Leave to Remain in September, and the possibility of British citizenship a year later. However, the Tories have announced that they intend to break the link between Tier 1 migrant visas and permanent residency as a matter of priority, meaning that people with Tier 1 visas will effectively be relegated to gastarbeiter status, obliged to cough up a few hundred pounds plus legal fees every two years for a new visa until they get sick of it and go back to where they came from.

I'm hoping that, given that I got my original visa in 2006, and my last one in 2008, I'll be grandfathered in under the old rules and somehow will squeak in under the closing door.
posted by acb at 2:03 PM on January 10, 2011


In China, you can all fuck off, you foreign bastards!* One thing we're not short of is people.

Is Chinese nationality constructed by ethnic background/lineage? Can one become Chinese (as one can become American or British), or is it something one's either born with or not (like being Japanese or German)?
posted by acb at 2:08 PM on January 10, 2011


Marry a Brazilian will give you citizenship in one year. I think France and Italy are generous in this way too. AFAIK Italy or France had once "instant citizenship" when you marry a citizen.

Here is an overview that I posted in a FPP already:
EU Citizenships



Yoyo
posted by yoyo_nyc at 2:26 PM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sweden seems like a pretty reasonable one. And the benefits!
posted by leotrotsky at 2:34 PM on January 10, 2011


@acb
You can become now German without having "German blood". Jus sanguinis (right of blood) was abolished by the German government in the 90ies. It was always possible to become a German without being born there (Hey, Hitler was Austrian and he had trouble becoming a German). And BTW, Bruce Willis is born in Germany but not a German citizen since at that time Germany still had "Jus sanguinis". Nevertheless, it is a lengthy and difficult way to acquire a German citizenship based on residency and language requirements. But it is a good passport. I think only the Danish passport beats the German one concerning visa free travel.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 2:37 PM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


@leotrotsky

Sweden seems do dislike dual citizenship.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 2:38 PM on January 10, 2011


In the technology startup forums i participate in, there are generally two types of posts that talk about citizenship: 1) the US needs a founder's VISA. You want to start a business in the US? you should be able to. 2) "I've got 30k saved, I want to leave the US and go someplace cheap to work on my startup, where?"

The consistency of both of these questions in the technology startup world and the increasing globalization of the knowledge workforce lead to troubling conclusions.
posted by Freen at 2:40 PM on January 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


TN status is nice and easy, but it's a bit like renting US residency. You have to renew every year...
As of 2009, TN's are for 3 years at a time.

I thought it was common knowledge that the super rich can essentially purchase citizenship (any why not? Every country wants more rich people they can tax). Whenever someone asks me what I'd do if I had 50 million dollars, my list usually includes getting 3 or 4 different passports.
posted by ceribus peribus at 2:56 PM on January 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sweden seems do dislike dual citizenship.

All of Scandinavia seems to be that way inclined.
posted by acb at 3:00 PM on January 10, 2011


We should just say come here you get 7 years if you pay taxes for 5 of 7 you can apply for citizenship otherwise go home.
posted by humanfont at 3:06 PM on January 10, 2011


gman writes "Can someone please educate me as to how the fuck an adult's finger prints can expire?"

It's a security document; they expire to minimize some abuses.
posted by Mitheral at 3:25 PM on January 10, 2011


Anyone who has the skills and connections and determination and money to make it through the processes described in that chart, is likely to be twice the asset to the country of someone who got their American citizenship by the mindless dumb luck of having American parents.

So while a lot of birth-Americans are happy to slander immigrants as lesser creatures that should go home, the view of this taken by many immigrants is that birth-Americans are largely 2nd-rate people who couldn't make it out in the big wide world on their own, and can't even earn their own lifestyle without being subsidized by the skills and wealth and economic prosperity and jobs brought to them by immigrants.

And if there's some truth in there, then the harder that times get, and the more backlash there is against immigration, there will be fewer immigrants, which will lead to even harder times, leading to more resentment at rare good jobs going to immigrants, more backlash, even harder times, and on and on. Not a great path to take. :-/
posted by -harlequin- at 3:58 PM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Immigration reform (specifically, making it easier for people to get here legally from other places,) is just about the only issue my entire family agrees on. Libertarians, socialists, Democrats, Republicans, the one person who really believes Tesla and the Federal Reserve are both connected to the Trilateral Commission's plans to dominate the world - everyone thinks this is a good idea. It admittedly helps that almost everyone is a first-degree relative of someone who's had to deal with either US or Canadian immigration. At some point soon, one of us will be making a plane trip from the midwestern US to Edmonton just to get a stamp on a thirty-five year-old birth certificate, for example.

By the way, if your kid is born in a foreign country: get every piece of paper stamped by everyone you can think of. It may come in handy some day, when they change all the rules again.
posted by SMPA at 4:06 PM on January 10, 2011


I like to think of it as a kind of an implicit threat to the country: if you guys don't clean up your act this time, I'll become a citizen and show you how to vote.

Nah, if you stay the way you are, no matter what happens, you can always say, "Hey, don't blame me. I didn't vote for these clowns!"
posted by madajb at 4:09 PM on January 10, 2011


Whenever someone asks me what I'd do if I had 50 million dollars, my list usually includes getting 3 or 4 different passports.

Five is the number most Perpetual Travelers seem to end up with, three if they don't work or invest much.
posted by bonehead at 4:20 PM on January 10, 2011


"Our high-tech companies are starving for qualified engineers and skilled workers."

No. They aren't.

Also, take a look at the "Red Card solution" (permatemp guest workers, an end to birthright citizenship) advocated by the Krieble Foundation quoted in their press release. Reason's motivation for putting this chart together was not an abiding faith in the ideals of Emma Lazarus.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 4:50 PM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The part that really sucks about immigration into the US is the arbitrariness of the process. This is a real quote of the answer I got when I asked how long it would take to finish the current step in my immigration process and move on to the next one: "Between 9 months and 7 years".

This means that for the next 9 months to 7 years I will need to keep renewing my visa, my wife will be unable to work legally, and I could get a visa renewal denied at any point for all kinds of obscure reasons.

I've been here for 5+ years, paying lots of taxes. I would like to buy a house, my wife would love to start a business, but we will not do it if our future here is so uncertain.

The other part that sucks is that it looks like DHS has no computers. The whole process is based in little pieces of paper that you have to carry on your person at all times, by law. You get stopped without them, you will get fines and could spend time on a cell or get deported. You get mugged and lose them, you can not re enter the country and you will have to spend serious money on lawyers.

I like this country a lot, but I am getting sick of the process by now. An European passport looks like a better option each year. I just need to find a job.
posted by Dr. Curare at 4:57 PM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is Chinese nationality constructed by ethnic background/lineage?
Technically no, and it's always been a multi-ethnic state (with minority groups with membership that straddles international borders so not even practical to restrict it to, say, Han, Yi, Manchu, Tibetan and Mongol etc. were they so inclined) even if contemporary political rhetoric can make it sound like Chineseness is conceived ethnically, in talk of a "中华民族".
posted by Abiezer at 5:22 PM on January 10, 2011


Ralston -- your linked article talks about the lack of domestic interests in academic research. That isn't exactly the same field as "our high tech companies" ... in web software, particularly, an ivory tower academic unused to profit driven rapid development cycles is one of the least desirable job candidates that one can look for.

Also, your red card program is geared towards agricultural farm workers who are in the country illegally. Again, not quite the same thing. It's like someone complaining about the lack of affordable housing and you saying, "well, I heard that there's this homeless shelter down the street ... I mean, haven't stayed in it myself, but it looks nice when I walk past it on my way to my 4 bedroom Victorian in the suburbs."
posted by bl1nk at 5:47 PM on January 10, 2011


in web software, particularly, an ivory tower academic unused to profit driven rapid development cycles is one of the least desirable job candidates that one can look for.

Exactly. The best and brightest locals are considered untouchables if they need even the slightest amount of on-the-job training in a new industry.

I guess I wasn't really trying to tie scientist "shortages" and exploitative temp worker programs together except for to suggest that Reason takes the position it does at least partially because they think it will help business by weakening the bargaining power of American workers, whether or not it's the right position for other reasons. I do give them some credit for focusing on citizenship/permanent residency; the hardcore corporatists prefer guest worker programs, like our Krieble Foundation.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 5:54 PM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can you prove that you're a genius? How about a star athlete? Or an investor with $2 million?
TOTAL: 6-7 years.


Well, that's a little hyperbolic. I can say from personal experience that you don't have to be a "genius": all that's required is a PhD and a publication record. In my case the entire process took about 18 months.
posted by phliar at 6:10 PM on January 10, 2011


Oops, I didn't realise the times given are for citizenship, not for the "Green Card" (permanent residency) -- 18 months was the time to get my green card. Another 5 years for citizenship, 3 if you happen to be married to a US citizen -- but that's independent of how you got to permanent resident status.
posted by phliar at 6:24 PM on January 10, 2011


Those of you talking about pay X amount to get a US visa quickly are referring to the EB-5 visa: To obtain the visa, individuals must invest at least $500,000, creating at least 10 jobs. Job creation must take place, or the investors do not get a green card (nor are they refunded their investment). The program was written up in the NYTimes and very thoroughly by Reuters.
posted by mnemonic at 6:50 PM on January 10, 2011


I think there is a big difference in the times for processing pre vs post 9/11. So what might have taken a short time 10+ years ago, may now take a very long time. I'm on year 3 of waiting, year 9 of working here. Fingers crossed that it will only take another 1-3 waiting years, not the full 10! (It's also interesting about the H1-B visa cap not being reached- I wonder if that is because the jobs were filled by capable Americans instead? I know there is no longer a demand for 'foreigners' like me in my line of work...anyway, I wonder if that means there will be a speed up in the processing times?!).
posted by bquarters at 6:51 PM on January 10, 2011


Honestly, I look at things like this (and the experiences of my friend just trying to get his damn green card already) and think, "Dear god, I can't fall in love with a foreigner and then have to deal with this drama to get him in here." Unless it's a Canadian and then I can go to his country instead :P
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:34 PM on January 10, 2011


All in all, it's quite lucky that America is one of the first-world countries I'd least like to be a citizen of then.
posted by salmacis at 5:19 AM on January 11, 2011


Oops, I didn't realise the times given are for citizenship, not for the "Green Card" (permanent residency) -- 18 months was the time to get my green card.

Well, that's a good point. Is there any real demand to cut down the time between green card and citizenship? Most foreigners I know are pretty satisfied with their green card and will get around to citizenship, probably, when they have some time, no real rush.
posted by smackfu at 6:05 AM on January 11, 2011


Honestly, I look at things like this (and the experiences of my friend just trying to get his damn green card already) and think, "Dear god, I can't fall in love with a foreigner and then have to deal with this drama to get him in here." Unless it's a Canadian and then I can go to his country instead :P

Doing this right now. I've come over from Western Australia to California and we're trying to make it work and it is working.

But we still dread dealing with USCIS. It's a nightmare.
posted by Talez at 8:58 AM on January 11, 2011


No, you can become a US citizen in 3 years if you're married to one. It's in parenthesis in the flowchart, but it's there.

That's three more years after your three years of permanent residency. You don't get to skip the residency part just because you have married someone. So theoretically six years in total, but with processing time more likely seven years.
posted by Quonab at 11:15 AM on January 11, 2011


It isn't so much that we don't want foreigners coming here and taking our stuff. We just don't want to overwhelm anything. Simple example: if the unemployment rate is high, letting too many immigrants in will cause trouble for everyone. So in those cases, only people who already have connections to the country get let in.

Someone I know just took her oath. She was gushingly thrilled about it. Maybe it is hard because it is valuable?

And I have 54 Canada points. Je suis fromage.
posted by gjc at 4:53 PM on January 11, 2011


Simple example: if the unemployment rate is high, letting too many immigrants in will cause trouble for everyone. So in those cases, only people who already have connections to the country get let in.

The unemployment rate is high and for the first time the H-1B quota hasn't be filled.

Viva la invisible market hand!
posted by Talez at 5:25 PM on January 12, 2011


if the unemployment rate is high, letting too many immigrants in will cause trouble for everyone.

Or it could reduce the unemployment and create more jobs for Americans.

A lot of production (both IP and manufacturing) involving millions or billions of dollars, takes place in the context of a global market and requires large teams including a lot of highly specialized and difficult-to-find people.

When you're vying for a big project, you need to be able to get all those people on schedule, or nobody gets a job, and you're not going to find all of them just happen to be hanging out in your own backyard twiddling their thumbs waiting for you job ad, you're going to suck up the available talent around you and most likely still have some key position that you need to fill.

If companies in Japan or Europe or Australia or whatever can assemble teams of global talent more quickly than the USA, it becomes harder, not easier, to create jobs for Americans in America.

And when those companies get those projects, they will be filling some of those specialized positions with Americans, leaving this country even less able to compete.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:39 AM on January 13, 2011


How to become a U.S. citizen flowchart

I've always wanted to be a U.S. citizen flowchart.

posted by doublehappy at 11:33 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


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