Do you have a US Citizenship interview coming up? Are you nervous?
You might already know that living in the United States as a permanent resident gives you a legal right to apply for the U.S. citizenship – and that’s exciting! If you are among those who are about to apply for the U.S. citizenship, this article is meant for you.
We will cover all you need to know, including:
- How to Get U.S. Citizenship
- Requirements for American Citizenship
- Timeline for Being Eligible for U.S. Citizenship
- Who Is Eligible to Become an American Citizen?
- What Is the Difference Between a U.S. Citizen and a U.S. National?
- What to Expect at the U.S. Citizenship Ceremony
Set yourself comfortably and let’s dive in.
Table of Contents
How to Get U.S. Citizenship
There are multiple ways in which you can acquire U.S. citizenship, including the following:
- Birthright Citizenship: This refers to individuals born in the United States or its territories, or those born abroad with at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen and will automatically become an American citizen by law; this also applies to any child born of two non-citizens in the United States.
- Naturalization: This is available to foreign nationals who have met certain requirements such as having held a U.S. Green Card for at least five years, exhibiting good moral character, passing an English language test, being familiar with the history and government of the United States, renouncing prior allegiances, and taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States.
- Acquisition of Citizenship through Parents: A foreign-born person may apply for U.S. citizenship if their parent(s) became naturalized citizens before their 18th birthday; they must meet other eligibility criteria such as having been legally admitted to the U.S., residing in the country continuously since birth and not leaving for extended periods of time, and being present in the country when their parents naturalize (unless exempt).
- Derivation of Citizenship: This grants citizenship to children whose parent(s) were already U.S. citizens at the time of their birth; it applies to those born outside or within a U.S. territory before December 24th 2002 (or after if certain conditions are met). In addition to meeting other eligibility requirements such as continuous residence from birth and favorable moral character, applicants must have a qualifying relationship with their parent(s), living or deceased at time of application submission – usually meaning that they are under 21 years old and unmarried if applying via biological/adoptive parents or over 21 but under 25 if applying through step-parent relationships among others.
- Adoption: Foreign-born children adopted by American citizens may qualify for automatic acquisition of American citizenship provided that specific legal criteria have been met such as lawful admission into the United States, residency with adoptive parents while under 16 years old (with average stay amounting between two years), valid adoption decree issued after February 27th 2001 along with proof that adoptive parent had custody during the period mentioned above; adoption must be completed by age 18 unless otherwise specified by law. In general, individuals must meet certain criteria to become a United States citizen.
Requirements for American Citizenship
- The primary requirement is that applicants must have lived in the USA as a permanent resident for at least five years, or three years if they are married to a U.S. citizen.
- Additionally, they must demonstrate good moral character and pass basic language and history tests.
- Furthermore, an applicant should be able to show evidence of financial stability and have knowledge of the principles and ideals outlined in the U.S. Constitution.
- To apply for American citizenship, individuals must submit an application form with all required documents to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- Documents typically include proof of identity (such as a passport or birth certificate), evidence of residence (like rent receipts or utility bills), tax returns, court records if applicable, two passport size photos and other papers depending on individual situations.
- Upon approval of their application, applicants will be scheduled to take part in an interview with USCIS officers where their knowledge about US civics will be tested.
- During this process, applicants may also need to appear in court or another venue for an Oath Ceremony during which they will pledge allegiance to the United States before receiving their Certificate of Naturalization.
Timeline for Being Eligible for U.S. Citizenship
To become a naturalized American citizen after having lived in the United States as a Legal Permanent Resident for five (5) years, it is necessary to have not left the country for more than six months in total and have been physically present for 30 months.
On the other hand, if you have been a U.S. Permanent Resident for three (3) years, then the main requirements would be that your spouse must have been an American citizen for at least three years, too. Additionally, you must have been married to and living with the U.S. citizen throughout those three years and cannot have stayed out of the U.S. for more than six months in any given period. Furthermore, you need to demonstrate you were physically present in the USA for eighteen consecutive months.
Who Is Eligible to Become an American Citizen?
To become a U.S. citizen, you must meet certain criteria established by the U.S. government.
Generally, the main criteria for American citizenship require the applicant to be:
- 18 years of age or older;
- A Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) of the United States with a “Green Card” that has been valid for at least five years;
- Able to pass an English and civics test demonstrating knowledge of U.S. history, government, and laws;
- Physically present in the United States for at least half of the five-year period immediately preceding an application for naturalization;
- Of good moral character as determined by a background check conducted by the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration Services; and
- Willing to pledge allegiance to the United States Constitution.
What Is the Difference Between a U.S. Citizen and a U.S. National?
The main difference between a U.S. citizen and a U.S. national is that a U.S. citizen is someone who has been granted citizenship to the United States through one of the paths outlined in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This includes naturalization, birthright citizenship, and other forms. A U.S. national is someone who owes allegiance to the U.S., but is not necessarily a U.S. citizen. This can include individuals born in U.S. territories or those with dual citizenship with other countries. In sum, all U.S. citizens are also U.S. nationals, but not all U.S. nationals are U.S. citizens, according to the INA.
In addition, U.S. citizens have certain responsibilities that are not required from non-citizens such as paying taxes to the government, serving in the military if requested, and participating in jury duty when summoned by law enforcement. Furthermore, they must obey all laws and regulations set forth by both state and federal governments at all times. On the other hand, U.S. nationals are generally exempt from having to comply with these rules unless specifically stated otherwise.
What to Expect at the American Citizenship Ceremony?
The day of the ceremony is, most likely, going to be a very exciting day for you and your family. You might feel overwhelmed with joy and feel a bit anxious. However, try to relax, be proud of yourself and enjoy your achievement!
Here is what you should expect:
- You will be asked to raise your right hand and recite the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. This includes promises to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, renounce any foreign allegiances and bear true faith and allegiance to the same.
- You will then receive your Certificate of Naturalization, which is proof of your U.S. citizenship status.
- Depending on where you live and local customs, you may also be asked to take part in a flag-raising ceremony or given a flag lapel pin from your town or city as a symbol of patriotism and a welcome into American society.
- At some ceremonies, there may also be guest speakers, such as elected officials or representatives from civil rights groups, to provide words of encouragement or share stories about their own U.S. immigration experiences or successes as naturalized citizens.
- There may even be musical performances, cultural dances or other forms of entertainment to help make the occasion more memorable for attendees and their families.
Becoming an American citizen is not an easy task, however, it is not totally impossible! The easiest path is to first obtain a U.S. Green Card, which is possible through the Diversity Visa Program.
To get U.S. citizenship, proper legal procedures must be followed and certain requirements must be met.
With enough preparation and dedication, it is possible for anyone who meets the necessary requirements to gain U.S. citizenship.
USAFIS helps thousands of people around the globe to obtain a Green Card to the U.S. via the Green Card Lottery Program.
Let us help you, too – FIND OUT HOW
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
How Long Does It Take to Become a U.S. Citizen?
Generally, applicants who are already permanent residents in the United States must have had at least five years of continuous residence in order to be eligible for naturalization. The process typically takes about 6-18 months from filing paperwork to completion of the Oath of Allegiance. This process begins with filing Form N-400 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Do I Have to Take the English Language Test to Become a U.S. Citizen?
During the U.S. Citizenship interview, you will be asked to complete a reading and a writing English assignment, in order to confirm your English language knowledge.
How Much Does it Cost to Become a U.S. Citizen?
The cost of becoming a U.S. citizen varies depending on the individual’s circumstances. Generally speaking, the most common fees associated with naturalization include the $640 USD fee for filing Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization) and the $85 USD biometrics services fee, for the applicant’s digital photograph and other biometric information.
How many times can I apply for U.S. citizenship?
You may apply for U.S. citizenship through the naturalization process as many times as you like, provided you meet all the eligibility requirements set forth by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Generally, applicants who are seeking to become a U.S. citizen must have been residing in the United States for at least five years, or three years if filing as the spouse of a U.S. citizen, without leaving for extended periods of time.
Do I need a lawyer to apply for American Citizenship?
No, you do not need a lawyer to apply for American citizenship. However, it is often beneficial to consult with a legal professional experienced in the U.S. immigration process, as American citizenship applications can be complicated and involve a lot of paperwork.
What to do if USCIS rejects your application for American Citizenship?
It really depends on the reasons why it has been rejected. You will receive a full explanation on the topic from the USCIS. Based on that explanation, you might need to provide additional proof to support your application (if that was the issue) or, if it was rejected due to the naturalization test failure, you might need to prepare for the part(s) of the naturalization test that you did not pass and then retake them if permitted. In some cases, you may have to reapply and pay the N-400 application fee again.
Can you have dual citizenship in the United States?
Yes, it is possible to have dual citizenship in the United States. Dual citizenship occurs when a person is considered a citizen of two countries at the same time. This can happen if a person is a citizen of one country, but immigrates to another nation (such as the United States) and is naturalized as a citizen there. In the United States, dual citizenship can be acquired through birthright citizenship or naturalization for foreign-born residents, so long as both countries of citizenship recognize dual nationality and neither revokes an individual’s native citizenship status. In other words, the U.S. Government allows dual citizenship, but there are some countries that do not allow their citizens to hold dual citizenship.
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