Citizenship Matters: Immigrants Appear to Earn Wage Premium from Citizenship

According to the Migrant Policy Institute, naturalization (becoming an American citizen) does more than impart political and social rights to new Americans. It appears to confer economic gains as well, with a “wage premium” of at least five percent.

That’s just one reason that LI3 focuses on helping documented immigrants become citizens. Even a five percent increase in earnings can be significant for a low-income immigrant family, helping them to become contributing member of our community.

The MPI report, The Economic Value of Citizenship for Immigrants in the United States, assesses a number of studies that have examined the earnings gap between naturalized and noncitizen immigrants — a divide that widened during the economic crisis. More than 8 million legal immigrants, representing about two-thirds of all legal permanent residents in the United States, are eligible to apply for naturalization but have not done so, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

“Some of the key barriers to naturalization include limited English proficiency [which LI3 also supports] and the $680 cost to apply for citizenship,” said Michael Fix, MPI’s senior vice president.

The report is available at:

Susan Thornton