What do you think is the major aspiration that most people who come to the United States have? It is to become an American citizen (although there are exceptions). Becoming a US citizen allows you to be given priority when it comes to traveling abroad and bringing other family members to the US. In comparison with permanent residents, the family members of US citizens immigrate much faster.
According to data published by the Pew Research Center in 2017, 67% of lawful permanent residents (LPR) eligible to become US citizens had done so in 2016. This was 20 percentage points higher than 1995, and the highest number for two decades.
But how does a person visiting the US become a citizen of the country?
Become a US Citizen Through Naturalization
An individual can become a US citizen either by birth or through naturalization. The latter is the manner in which a person who is not US-born voluntarily becomes a US citizen. In this process, a foreign citizen or national is granted US citizenship after s/he fulfills the requirements established by the Congress in its Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). However, the first step towards becoming a citizen is to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) first, also known as a “green card holder.”
Did you know that in the US, it is more cost effective to become a US citizen than to remain an LPR? The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) charge fees both for filing for naturalization and for maintaining permanent resident status. The cost of naturalization is much lower than that for remaining an LPR.
To apply for naturalization, the applicant needs to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, with the USCIS. After this, s/he needs to undergo a biometric (fingerprinting) appointment, if applicable, and give an interview. After the completion of the process, the USCIS decides on whether you are eligible to become a citizen or not. If yes, you receive a notice to take the Oath of Allegiance. After taking the oath, the person is called a US citizen.
However, to complete the naturalization process, you need to fulfil certain requirements to prove your eligibility to become a citizen.
Requirements for US Citizenship
- You should be at least 18 years of age at the time of filing for naturalization.
- You should be able to speak, read and write basic English.
- You should be a person of good moral character.
- To file for US citizenship, you must have held a Permanent Resident (Green) Card for at least five years. During those five years, your physical presence in the US should be at least for two and a half years. You should not have spent more than a year outside the US at one time.
- You should not have a primary home in another country.
- You should have lived in the state or district from where you are filing for naturalization for at least three months.
Those who are able to meet all the above criteria can apply for citizenship by filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
Let me know in comments if you have any questions.