CLEVELAND - A new report ranks Cleveland as the best city in the country to become a new American.
According to Boundless Immigration, Cleveland has defied national trends. Although the study reports growing barriers to legal immigration nationwide, Cleveland has the shortest citizenship processing time in the nation at four months, compared to the 10 month national average.
Waiting to become a citizen is something Ilda Suli knows all too well. Suli said she came to the U.S. from her native Albania and became a naturalized citizen in Cleveland last year.
"I wanted to vote," said Suli, "It was like a dream, a dream coming true actually."
Suli said her husband started his application process in New York where they lived prior to moving to Cleveland. She stated his processing time was significantly longer.
"My husband, his process was one year and a half long and my process here in Cleveland was for four months," said Suli.
The study reports becoming a citizen is harder depending on where the person filing an application lives. The report stated national trends are worrisome, processing time for a citizenship application has swelled over the past two years, to more than 10 months. The study shows that is double the processing time between 2012 and 2016.
Richard Drucker, an attorney for Margaret Wong and Associations based in Cleveland said he understood why the city is held in such high esteem.
"Cleveland is a very immigrant friendly city," said Drucker. "The local government is focusing on bringing immigrants into this city because it improves our workforce, our education, and I think that's part of the process that makes USCIS [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] so efficient."
The study also dives into the efficiency of USCIS field offices. Cleveland also took the top spot in this category, the report cites it is rare for applicants to wait longer than 12.3 months for an application to be processed.
"I never imagine that this is going to happen to me but here I am and I feel like my dream, it became true and I can't wish more," said Suli.