The United States is a large and diverse country with a high standard of living, plenty of job opportunities and arguably the best healthcare system, so it’s no wonder why so many people want to migrate to the U.S. and become U.S. citizens.
Becoming a U.S citizen makes you eligible for a lot of benefits, provides certain rights and privileges. That’s why in 2018, USCIS (the government agency) which oversees lawful immigration to the United States received 849,500 citizenship applications.
Let’s check out some of the ways to become a U.S. citizen.
Ways to Become a U.S. Citizen
You may become a U.S. citizen either at birth or after birth.
Citizenship at birth
If you are born in the U.S or one of its territories then you are a U.S citizen automatically.
If you were born abroad and at the time of your birth at least one of your parents was a U.S. citizen then you might be eligible to get U.S. citizenship through acquisition.
If a child is born abroad then it typically follows a process where the U.S. citizen applies for Certificate of Citizenship. Learn more about the Citizenship Certificate.
Citizenship after birth
Citizenship after birth is what most immigrants might be eligible for. If you are a foreign national the first step to become a U.S citizen is to become a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder). If you are not yet a Green Card holder then learn more about “Green Card“.
The process to gain citizenship after birth is called Naturalization. If you would like to know more about Naturalization please check out our “Guide to Naturalization“.
Benefits, Rights, and Privileges of U.S. Citizenship
“With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”. This quote certainly applies to U.S. citizens. Below are some of the benefits, rights, and privileges of becoming U.S. citizens.
- You have the right to vote and this is a super power. We need to stress this out cause you have the right to choose one of the most powerful human beings in the world “The American President” and others with your ability to vote.
- You can apply for federal jobs reserved only for U.S. citizens.
- You can get a U.S passport which is most likely the powerful passport in the world. You can travel to a lot of countries without a need for a visa or with a visa on arrival.
- You will be able to travel abroad for a longer period of time than Green Card holders.
- You will be able to sponsor more family members to get a Green Card than Green Card holders.
- You can apply for university scholarships and other government benefits.
- Your children are automatically U.S citizens even if they are born outside the U.S. and much more.
Is this enough to make you desire to become a U.S. citizen? If so then let’s check out how long it would take to become a U.S. citizen.
How Long Does it Take to Become a U.S. Citizen?
Assuming that you already have a Green Card and you are eligible to apply for citizenship generally it would take anywhere between 6 months to 1 year to become a U.S. citizen.
As mentioned earlier, in order to become a U.S. citizen, you need to become a Green Card holder. Getting a Green Card could take anywhere between a few months to years.
There are different ways to get a Green Card and each method has its own timeline so we have covered them in a detailed article “How to Get a Green Card?“
Once you have a Green Card you need to become eligible to apply for citizenship. To be eligible to apply for citizenship it could take anywhere between 3 to 5 years. This depends on the method you used to get your Green Card.
But if you are eligible to apply for citizenship then as mentioned above it would take anywhere between 6 months to 1 year if you apply.
Applying for citizenship and becoming a U.S. citizen is generally not so difficult unless you are not a Green Card holder.
If you are already a Green Card holder then you might be eligible to apply for Citizenship. Learn more by checking the article “How to apply for U.S. Citizenship?“.
How Much Does it Cost to Become U.S. Citizen?
If you are not a Green card holder generally it might cost anywhere between $970 to $4,315 in just filing fees
If you are a green card holder it would cost you $725 for citizenship. In which $640 is for Form N-400 which is the form used to apply for U.S. citizenship and $85 for biometrics.
But this cost is likely to increase substantially in a few months as there is a proposal by the USCIS to increase the cost. If you are already a Green Card holder then don’t hold back. Apply for citizenship as soon as possible.
If these costs are high then you will be pleased to know that there is a fee waiver for eligible citizenship applications. If you are eligible for a fee waiver, you will need to fill out Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, and submit any supporting documents.
General Process to Apply for U.S. Citizenship
- Get a Green Card
- If you already have a Green Card check your eligibility
- Apply for Citizenship
- Attend Citizenship test
- Attend Citizenship interview
- Participate in the Citizenship ceremony and take the oath to the constitution.
We hope you learned more about U.S. citizenship today. Do check out the other articles linked within if you need to understand the whole process.