Citizenship in the United States is a highly coveted status that can be achieved through several different paths. The most common way to become a US citizen is by birth, either within the United States or to US citizen parents overseas. However, for those who were not born in the US or born to US citizen parents, there are several ways to acquire citizenship:
- Naturalization: This is the most common path to citizenship and is available to legal permanent residents, also known as green card holders, who have been in the US for a certain period of time and meet certain requirements.
- Derivation: This is a path to citizenship for individuals who were born abroad to at least one US citizen parent and meet certain criteria.
- Acquisition: This is a path to citizenship for individuals who were born abroad to non-US citizen parents but who were adopted by US citizens or who have at least one US citizen parent who lived in the US for a certain period of time.
Process of Applying for Citizenship in the United States
The process for applying for citizenship in the United States depends on the specific path to citizenship. For those seeking to naturalize, the process typically involves:
- Meeting the eligibility requirements, which include:
- Being at least 18 years old
- Being a legal permanent resident for at least 5 years (or 3 years if married to a US citizen)
- Demonstrating continuous residency in the US for at least 5 years (or 3 years if married to a US citizen)
- Being able to read, write, and speak basic English
- Passing a test on US history and government
- Having good moral character
- Being willing to take an oath of allegiance to the US
Completing and submitting Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, along with the required supporting documents and fees.
Attending a biometrics appointment, during which fingerprints and a photograph are taken.
Attending an interview with a US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer to review the application and test English proficiency and knowledge of US history and government.
Receiving a decision on the application.
Attending a ceremony to take the Oath of Allegiance and become a US citizen.
Advantages of Being Granted Citizenship in the United States
There are several advantages to being granted citizenship in the United States, including:
The ability to vote in US elections and have a say in the political process.
The ability to apply for certain jobs that require US citizenship.
The ability to travel freely in and out of the United States without the risk of being denied entry.
The ability to petition for family members to immigrate to the United States.
The ability to apply for federal financial aid for education.
Protection from deportation and the ability to apply for a US passport.
Rules Surrounding Dual Citizenship in the United States
The United States allows for dual citizenship, which means that individuals can hold citizenship in both the United States and another country. While some countries do not allow dual citizenship or require individuals to renounce their existing citizenship in order to become a citizen of that country, the United States has no such requirement.
Reliable Information on Citizenship in the United States
For reliable, up-to-date information on citizenship in the United States, individuals can visit the website of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at www.uscis.gov. The USCIS website provides detailed information on the various paths to citizenship, eligibility requirements, application procedures, and other important information.