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Center for American Progress

RELEASE: New Report Makes the Economic Case for a Clear, Quick Pathway to Citizenship
Press Release

RELEASE: New Report Makes the Economic Case for a Clear, Quick Pathway to Citizenship

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress released a new report that examines the impact that allowing immigrants to gain full citizenship would have on the economy. The report, titled “The Economic Case for a Clear, Quick Pathway to Citizenship” analyzes not just the U.S. case but also the economic impact of allowing immigrants to gain full citizenship in other countries in North America and Europe.

The report’s findings are clear: a pathway to citizenship that is free of obstacles and undue delays helps immigrants integrate into the labor market and increase their earnings. These increased earnings and the corresponding added tax revenue would help grow the economy, which yields benefits for native-born citizens too. The report also evaluates how the United States can maximize the potential economic gains from such immigration policies. After demonstrating that granting citizenship carries positive economic impacts for an array of countries, this report delves deeper to explore how to maximize the gains from citizenship.

The findings include:

  • The clearer the pathway to citizenship, the greater the gains.
  • The optimal waiting period for citizenship is roughly five years.
  • Placing significant restrictions and lengthy delays on immigrants’ ability to become citizens diminishes the size of their ultimate economic premium.
  • The best and brightest immigrants may leave for their home countries or other, more welcoming countries.

Guided by a survey of experts from around the world, authors Pieter Bevelander and Don J. DeVoretz divide the countries in this report into three categories: a high citizenship premium, represented by countries such as Canada; a medium citizenship premium, represented by countries such as Germany; and a low citizenship premium, represented by countries such as the Netherlands and Norway.

While the countries surveyed in this report do not have large unauthorized populations, it is clear that the immigrants who enter these countries with the least amount of human capital—those at the lowest rungs of the workforce, for example—make the greatest gains and see the largest citizenship premiums. Given the roughly similar human-capital profile of the United States’ undocumented population, U.S. immigrants can be expected to make similarly large gains from legalization and citizenship.

Read the full report here.

Related resources:

To speak with an expert, contact Crystal Patterson at [email protected] or 202.478.6350.