By Youyou Zhou

As US immigration policies get more aggressive, citizenship becomes an ever more valuable asset.

More than 544,000 immigrants became US citizens in the first three quarters of fiscal year 2018, overall a 15% increase from the same period a year ago, according to the latest data from the US Department of Homeland Security. The largest year-to-year increase occurred in the first quarter of 2018, however there was a slight decrease in the third quarter.

Most immigrants can apply for US citizenship after being a permanent resident for five years, or three years after marrying a US citizen. The US immigration agency estimated (pdf) that there were 13.2 million permanent residents in 2015, and 9 million among them would be eligible for citizenship upon application.

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