Carlos da Cruz, a green card holder for 25 years, decided to apply for U.S. citizenship this year. He joins other long-time green card holders contributing to the rising number of pending naturalization applications. Riham Feshir | MPR News

By Riham Fesir, MPR News

December 3rd, 2018

Ian McWilliam was coming home from vacation in Greece a couple of years ago when an immigration officer in Philadelphia asked him some questions he wasn’t expecting.

“Why have you never become a citizen?” asked the officer. “You’ve been here for 20 years. Why do you still have a green card?”

“And I said, ‘Well, I just never bothered,'” McWilliam said. “I mean it does say on the card that you’re a permanent resident.”

The 63-year-old moved from the United Kingdom to California in 1989. He lives in Minneapolis now.

Still, he didn’t want to run the risk and got a U.S. passport this year after getting approved for his citizenship.

McWilliam is one of a growing throng of legal, permanent residents of the United States who never saw the need to bother with citizenship — and are now having second thoughts. The number of pending naturalization applications is rising. Pending applications in Minnesota are up by 88 percent from 2016.

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