21 October 2020

Streamline The Naturalization Process

It is harder than it needs to be to be naturalized as a U.S. citizen. Here are some reforms that I would suggest.

Collectively, this would end a troubling pattern of members of the U.S. military not securing citizenship and being deported, would give a leg up in the naturalization process to people who have already lived in the U.S. for many years on non-green card student or work visas, would waive tests for people who are almost sure to pass them or have strong ties to the U.S., and would greatly reduce the potential for arbitrary discretionary denials of naturalization applications from otherwise qualified candidates. 

It would also greatly reduce the number of people in the U.S. who want to be naturalized but are in the limbo of having a green card and going through the many hoops that now stand in their way.

* Automatically award U.S. citizenship immediately upon enlistment in the U.S. military with no other requirements, and immediately grant U.S. citizenship to any non-citizen who is currently serving in the U.S. military with no other requirements.

* Currently a spouse of a U.S. citizen must have a green card for three years and must reside in the U.S. for 18 months to be eligible for naturalization. Automatically grant a green card to any spouse of a U.S. citizen upon marriage without any quotas, waiting periods, application, or other requirements, which is optionally confirmed with a free green card application upon presentation of the marriage license to citizenship bureaucrats. Reduce this to a requirement to have a green card, and to have a visa of any time for two years and to reside in the U.S. on a visa for 12 months, and waive these requirements entirely for (1) spouses of U.S. citizens who have children (minor or adult, not necessarily from the current spouse) who are U.S. citizens, (2) for a widow or widower of a U.S. citizen who died while honorably serving in the U.S. military, and (3) for someone who has served in the U.S. military at any time.

* Currently someone seeking naturalization who is not a spouse of a U.S. citizen and has no military exemptions must have a green card for five years and must reside in the U.S. for 30 months. Reduce this to a requirement to have a green card, and to have a visa of any time for two years and to reside in the U.S. on a visa for 12 months.

* End the requirement of residency in a particular U.S. state for three months.

* End the requirement of a naturalization interview, unless someone is seeking an exemption when they have disqualifying criminal convictions or some other requirement.

* Waive both the English language test and the civics test for anyone who: 
(1) has graduated from a high school or received a university degree in the United States (regardless of language of instruction), 
(2) has served in the U.S. military at any time, 
(3) is married to a U.S. citizen and has a child who is a U.S. citizen (minor or adult, not necessarily from the current spouse), 
(4) is a widow or widower of a U.S. citizen who died while honorably serving in the U.S. military, 
(5) is age sixty-five or older and has resided in the U.S. for at least ten years (on any combination of visas) (currently a similar but more strict requirement authorizes an easier civics test but doesn't waive it), or 
(6) receives an approved disability waiver on the same basis as under current law.

* Waive the English language test (but not the civics test administered in English) for anyone with: 
(1) a high school diploma, associates degree, bachelor's degree, or graduate degree from an educational institution in a program where the primary language of instruction in English, and 
(2) anyone age forty years or older who has resided in the U.S. for at least ten years (on any combination of visas) (the current waiver is age fifty or older and twenty years residing in the U.S. on a green card or age fifty-five or older and fifteen years residing in the U.S. on a green card).

* The current government filing fee for naturalization applications is $725, including $640 for processing and $85 for biometrics services. Military applicants are exempt from both the application filing fee and the biometrics fee. Applicants aged 75 and older are exempt from the biometrics fee. Reduce the fee to $65 for processing and $85 for biometric services (for a total of $150).

* Eliminate the denaturalization process for undisclosed issues in a U.S. citizenship application. Someone who commits an act that would currently qualify for denaturalization may be punished with a civil or criminal punishment, but does not lose U.S. citizenship.

19 October 2020

Degree Inflation

Currently, about 60 million people in the U.S. labor force have a Bachelor's degree or higher. This is almost 42% of the labor force, up from 26.2% in 1992.

From Calculated Risk

I graduated from college in 1992. My daughter graduated from college in 2020. My degree set me apart from the pack a lot more than her degree did, although it helps that both of us graduated in three years from highly selective liberal arts colleges with STEM degrees.

But I am very skeptical that the quality of the workforce has increased all that much because more people have earned college degrees. I assume that the shift is mostly degree inflation.