NEW YORK - The number of Caribbean immigrants becoming naturalized U.S. citizens is back on the decline, following an upswing in the post 9/11 era.
That`s according to latest Department of Homeland Security immigration statistics analyzed by CaribWorldNews. While all Caribbean countries saw naturalizations drop in the three years following the September 11th attack, most saw an upswing in 2006 and 2008. However, there was a marked decline last year with the same trend largely observed for 2007.
Caribbean nationals who took the oath to become U.S. citizens in 2009 was put at 92,931, a drop from 2008 when the total reached 140,350. In 2007, those becoming U.S. citizens totaled 74,140, a drop from the previous year when the total climbed to 96,985.
New citizens from most Caribbean nations, including the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica and Aruba fluctuated between those years with most showing a drop after the September terrorist attack but an ebb and flow between 2006 and 2008.
For these countries, while the downturn occurred in the three years immediately following 2001, all experienced an upswing in 2006 and 2008 but a decrease in 2007 and 2009.
For Anguilla, however, the number of naturalizations rose again between 2006 and 2008 after seeing three years of downturn following 9/11. The same was true for Antigua and Barbuda.
The most naturalizations recorded, occurred for nationals from Cuba and the Dominican Republic followed by Jamaica and Haiti. Over 24,000 nationals of Cuba became U.S. citizens last year compared to over 20,000 nationals from the DR. Over 15,000 Jamaicans took the oath of U.S. citizenship followed by over 13,000 from Haiti.
Over 6,800 Guyanese became U.S citizens last year compared to over 5,700 Trinidad and Tobago nationals. The next largest numbers were from Barbados with 878 and the Bahamas with 569.
Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act.
In most cases, an applicant for naturalization must be a permanent resident (green card holder) before filing. Except for certain U.S. military members and their dependents, naturalization can only be granted in the United States.
Immigrants qualify for naturalization largely if they have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and meet all other eligibility requirements including being continually present in the U.S. and being a person of good moral character.