How to become a U.S. citizen?
Over the course of History, the United States has been known as the “Land of the Free”, providing the chance for a better life for many immigrants. People come from all over the world with a desire to live the American dream and achieve a better life for themselves and their families and see it as an opportunity to increase their quality of life. If you wish to become a U.S. citizen, there are several ways for you to accomplish this. In this article, we will explain the basics you need to know in order to start your journey.
Who is eligible to become a U.S. citizen?
To be eligible to become a U.S. citizen, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- You must be able to speak, read, write, and understand basic English.
- You must have knowledge of the United States History and government structure.
- You must have good morals.
- You must have been a lawful permanent resident for the past five years (or three years, if already married to a U.S. citizen) and be physically present in the U.S. for at least half that time.
- You must take a loyalty oath to the United States.
In general, there are some main categories that allow immigrants to obtain U.S. citizenship, which are: Through naturalization, marriage, and through the military.
Citizenship through naturalization is when an immigrant who is born outside the United States voluntarily becomes a citizen. After five years of being a lawful permanent resident, the person can choose whether they’d like to apply for citizenship or not. Usually, naturalization is the most common path to becoming a citizen, as it embraces people from many backgrounds.
Citizenship through marriage is possible after three years of being a lawful permanent resident. To be eligible to apply, in addition to previous requirements, you will also have to prove that you and your spouse have been living in a marital union and sharing a life together as a couple.
Citizenship through the military is possible by serving in either the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard. During peacetime, foreign nationals who served honorably in the U.S. for at least one year are also able to apply for naturalization.
What are the benefits of being a U.S. citizen?
After becoming a U.S. citizen, you’ll have just as many rights as any other American. Becoming a citizen can offer many advantages, such as:
The right to vote
Unlike lawful permanent residents, citizens have the opportunity to elect the leaders they believe are the best to represent themselves and their communities.
Be able to run for public office
Although it is not possible to be a candidate for the presidency, becoming a U.S. citizen allows you to apply for numerous public office positions.
Freedom to travel
Becoming a citizen automatically means you will receive a U.S. passport, which is one of the most powerful passports in the world. You are permitted to travel to more than 180 countries for a short-term trip without needing a visa and you are also able to seek support from the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate in case you need assistance.
Be able to sponsor your family for a Green Card
Citizens generally get priority when petitioning to bring family members permanently to the United States, being able to sponsor closer relatives, such as parents, children, and even siblings.
Be eligible to receive financial aid from the government
If you intend to apply for college or university, being a citizen can help you, since most university scholarships and financial aid programs are only available to U.S. citizens.
Be able to apply for jobs within the U.S. government
Federal employees and their families tend to receive some benefits compared to private-sector workers. Most jobs with government agencies require U.S. citizenship in order to be able to apply.
Be able to travel abroad for a long period of time
Lawful permanent residents are not allowed to spend more than six months a year traveling, since they might not be admitted back to the United States. Being a citizen gives you the opportunity to travel for as long as you want, without restrictions.
What are some of the American citizens’ responsibilities?
- As an American citizen, even if you move abroad, you must file tax returns for life.
- You may be called to serve on a jury.
- You must support and defend the constitution.
- You must respect the rights, opinions, and beliefs of others.
- You must serve in the military if required by law.
Do I need to renounce my original citizenship?
Depending on your home country’s rule for dual citizenship, you may not be able to have two citizenships at the same time. If you are interested in learning more, please click here. Our office will make sure that you receive the best and most personalized consultation available from anywhere in the world.
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