Across the globe, immigrants are dreamed about U.S. citizenship to arrive at the land of opportunity. It carries tremendous privileges, rights, and benefits for which people sacrifice too much to get U.S. citizenship.
To become a U.S. citizen, immigrants can opt for four basic paths;
- Citizenship through naturalization
- Citizenship through marriage
- Citizenship through birth
- Citizenship through military service
Traditionally, citizenship through naturalization was the most commonly used method to become a U.S. citizen. But overall, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is considered an extremely stressful and complex process irrespective of selecting the path to citizenship.
It can be costly and time-consuming as in case of any mistake in the application can make the entire effort zero. For the immigration process, an individual must require the help of an experienced professional to complete the error-free process of application.
Citizenship Through Naturalization:
A green card is a key to becoming a naturalized citizen. Green card holders who legally stay in the U.S. are likely to become legal permanent residents. He/she can live and work freely throughout the country. There are the following conditions to get a green card;
- Relatives are living legally in the U.S.
- Qualified for a permanent job offer in the U.S.
- Legally living in the United States as a refugee or asylee.
Furthermore, some basic requirements must be fulfilled to get a green card. These basic requirements include;
1. Residency Requirements:
As per residency requirements of USCIS, the applicant must have proven at least 5 years of residence in the U.S. before applying for naturalization. Moreover, they need to prove their residence in the same state or USCIS district for 30 months.
- Personal Requirements: It includes the process to ensure the applicant’s age, personal knowledge, moral character, and understanding of the language and the U.S. government.
- Applicant must be 18 years old or above at the time of submission Form N-400.
- Applicants must be able to speak, read, and write basic English.
- Applicant must have good moral character.
- Applicant must be familiar with the fundamentals of U.S. government and U.S. history. They must accept the democratic process of the state and will obey all rules and regulations.
2. Naturalization Application:
Applicant is required to fill online Form N-400 in all aspects.
3. The Biometrics Appointment:
During the biometric appointment, the applicants must submit a photograph, an electronic signature, and fingerprints to conduct a background check.
4. Citizenship Test:
The USCIS officer will ask about the application and background of the applicant. It also includes the English and civics test.
5. The Citizenship Interview:
The applicant will receive a letter about the date, time, and venue of the citizenship interview, along with the checklist of required documents to bring to the interview.
6. Oath of Allegiance:
This is the final step of the naturalization process. Applicants have to take the ‘Oath of Allegiance’ in the naturalization ceremony and receive the naturalization certificate (proof of citizenship).
Citizenship Through Marriage:
If you’re married to a U.S. citizen, you can apply for a green card by submitting Form I-130 reflects a relationship between you and your spouse. You will need to prove the marriage by submitting documents such as a marriage certificate. This process includes;
1. The Marriage Interview
During the marriage interview, the officer will ask specific personal questions to ensure that marriage is real or not. Interview questions may include;
- Relationship history
- Personal information like birthdays
- Questions about who is responsible for bills or cooking
- Detailed questions about your wedding
2. Residency Requirements
An immigrant spouse will not be able to apply for naturalization immediately after receiving a green card. There are the following residency requirements that must need to be completed first.
- At least three years of complete and continuous residence in the U.S. along with the physical presence of at least 1.5 years.
- Must live as a married couple during the entire three years of residence.
- At least three months stay in the state or USCIS district.
3. Personal Requirements
Personal requirements for U.S. citizenship include:
- at least 18 years of age of the applicant.
- English speaking, reading, and writing.
- Have good moral character. It means you’re generally a good person who follows state laws.
- Apply for Naturalization: Fill out Form N-400 online.
- Biometrics Appointment: During a biometrics appointment, the USCIS will collect fingerprints, photographs, and an electronic signature.
- The Citizenship Interview: It is the last step before a decision is made regarding your citizenship. Immigration officials will ask about the applicant’s background and N-400 application. A citizenship test (part of the interview) will be conducted during the interview, and the applicant will be asked to read and write in English.
- Oath of Allegiance: Applicant will receive Form 455 about the naturalization ceremony in the mail. Once an applicant has completed, this ceremony will receive a naturalization certificate (proof of citizenship).
4. Citizenship Through Parents
An individual can become a U.S. citizen through parents if he/she is a child of a U.S. citizen. There are several conditions and requirements to get citizenship through parents depending on whether one or both parents are citizens or a case of adoption.
- U.S. Citizenship by Birth: According to the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution;
- All individuals born or naturalized in the United States are citizens of the U.S.
- If both parents of the applicant are U.S. citizens and married, he/she become a U.S. citizen even if they were born outside of the United States.
- If only one parent is a U.S. citizen, the applicant can still acquire U.S. citizenship. In this case, the child’s parents must be married to each other and must be physically present in a territory or state for at least 5 years before childbirth.
- While in the case of unmarried parents, the child’s mother must be a U.S. citizen at the time of childbirth, and she was physically present in the U.S. for at least one year. Moreover, the child’s genetic father must be a U.S. citizen at the time of birth who must have spent 5 years in the United States, with two of those years being after the father. The father must also promise to provide financial support, in writing, until the child is 18 years of age.
- Citizenship After Birth: If a child was born after February 27, 2001, he/she could get U.S. citizenship by fulfilling the following criteria;
- One parent must be a U.S. citizen.
- The child must be under 18 years old.
- The U.S. citizen parent must hold legal and physical custody of the child.
- The child must live in the United States.
- Citizenship Through Adoption: The adopted child can become a U.S. citizen if the Parents who adopt the child must have legal and physical custody of the child under the following scenarios;
- Parents have lived with the child legally in the United States for at least two years.
- The child must have been admitted into the United States as an orphan (IR-4) or Convention adoptee (IH-4). The parents must have adopted the child before the child turned 18 years old.
- The child was adopted outside the United States before the child turned 18 years old and was admitted to the United States as an orphan (IR-3) or Convention adoptee (IH-3).
1. Citizenship through Birth in U.S. Territories:
If the applicant is born in U.S. territories like the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, or the Northern Mariana Islands, he/she still can become U.S. Citizen except if his/her parents are members of a sovereign Native American tribe or foreign diplomats.
Citizenship through the Military:
If an individual has served honorably in U.S. armed forces, he/she is eligible to become a U.S. citizen through naturalization. For this, the requirements vary depending upon the period of service during peacetime or hostility. The requirements are as follows;
The personal requirements for naturalization through military services include;
- Good moral character
- At least 18 years of age
- Speak, read, and write English
- Basic understanding of U.S. history and government.
Serving Period (peacetime or hostility):
- If a person served during a period of hostility may apply for naturalization right away.
- And if a person is serving during peacetime, he/she can apply for naturalization if;
- Served honorably for at least one year.
- Obtained a green card.
- Filed the application during service or within six months of separation.
Complete your application:
Applicant is required to complete Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization) and Form N-426 (Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service).
- Oath of Allegiance
- The English Test
- The Civics Test
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. What is the easiest way to become a U.S. citizen?
Ans: The most commonly used way to become a U.S citizen is naturalization, but every method is complex, time-consuming, and costly. It requires a lot of patience and commitment.
2. How long does it take to become a U.S. Citizen?
Ans: It depends upon the path of citizenship that a person wants to opt for. Naturalization is the most commonly used method; it may take 8-14 months after filing Form N-400.
3. Is there any limit to the number of times to apply for naturalization?
Ans: There is no limit to applying for naturalization, but it will be costly for you as you must have to pay the filing fee for each Form N-400 you submit to the agency.
4. Do I need a lawyer to apply for U.S. Citizenship?
Ans: No, you can file the USCIS form yourself, but if you take professional assistance of some lawyer, it will make your process relatively easy, simple and can save you from rejection as he/she knows the minor details and requirements of the process.
- https://www.fileright.com/blog/4-ways-to-become-a-u-s-citizen/ retrieved on December 25, 2021.
- https://citizenpath.com/ways-to-become-a-us-citizen/ retrieved on December 25, 2021.
- https://www.boundless.com/immigration-resources/naturalization-explained/#frequently-asked-questions retrieved on December 25, 2021.
- https://us.iasservices.org.uk/routes-to-us-citizenship/ retrieved on December 25, 2021.