When an immigrant is looking to become a U.S. citizen, there are a few ways in which one can go about it. The requirements to become a U.S. citizen vary, but the benefits and rights that one receives are absolutely worth the process. There are different types of U.S. citizenship and various ways you can become a citizen of the United States of America.
So, if you’re wondering how to get U.S. citizenship through various avenues, this article will give you all the information you will need to know.
Citizenship through Naturalization
You will be eligible to apply for the naturalization process if you have a green card. This process is the most common way green card holders will receive United States citizenship and arguably the best way to become a U.S citizen. Additionally, becoming a U.S. citizen through naturalization is the most common form of citizenship for immigrants.
Generally, if you are over the age of 18 years old, you must meet one of the three following criteria, which will be explained more below.
Green Card Holders Become US Citizens
If you are a green card holder, the naturalization process is straightforward and a great way to become a U.S. citizen. This process will include following these basic steps:
- First, you must determine eligibility. If you have been a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. for at least five years, are over the age of 18, able to speak, read and write with basic English and be of good moral character, you are considered eligible to be in the naturalization process.
- Next, completing the necessary forms, which in this case is Form N-400, the application for naturalization, will be done next. You will need to truthfully fill out this form, collect the necessary documents, take two passport-like photographs, and submit the forms.
- Upon submission of the forms, you will be required to pay the filing fee, which totals around $725.
- Scheduling a biometrics appointment to get fingerprinted will be done upon receiving a letter from USCIS. This will happen when your application is approved and will require you to get this done.
- Once all the above steps are completed, you will schedule your interview with USCIS. Within this interview, you will take the English test, basic reading, writing, and speaking proficiency, and the naturalization test. This test is considered difficult because an extensive knowledge of U.S. history and government structure is required.
- If all goes well and you are approved, you will be invited to a citizenship ceremony and take the oath of allegiance. From there, you will receive your citizenship documents.
Become a Citizen Through Military Service
Another way to get U.S. citizenship is if you are someone who has served a term in the U.S. military. However, these criteria must be met:
- A basic understanding of U.S. history and government structures
- You must be at least 18 years of age when applying for citizenship
- Your English speaking, writing, and reading proficiency must meet the basic requirements
- No crimes have been committed, and you are of good moral standing
Becoming a U.S. citizen through the military is uncommon but can also be a bit difficult. Apart from the abovementioned requirements, you must have served honorably for at least one year. From there, if the above conditions are met, you can apply for citizenship through military service.
U.S. Nationals Become U.S. Citizens
A U.S. national is someone who holds the right to reside in United States territory without limits. This begs the question, are U.S. nationals U.S citizens? Simply put, green card holders are neither U.S. nationals nor U.S. citizens. A U.S. national is usually someone who owes their sole allegiance to the United States.
As a U.S national, you are allowed to live and work anywhere in the U.S., get a U.S. passport, and apply for permanent residency. The rights of a U.S. national are that of a legal U.S citizen, meaning they receive the freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
For a U.S. national, the naturalization process follows these steps, which include:
- Determine eligibility for citizenship
- File Form N-400, which is the application for naturalization
- Undergo a biometrics appointment and get your fingerprints taken
- Schedule and attend the citizenship interview, where you will take your naturalization test that includes U.S. history questions, and a basic test of English knowledge
- Upon hearing the decision from USCIS, if approved, you will take the oath of allegiance to the United States.
- Become a legal U.S. citizen
Citizenship Through Derivation
After a parent goes through the naturalization process, they are able to derive citizenship for their children, provided the child meets a few of the following factors. These factors include:
- The child having a green card and being a lawful permanent resident of the U.S.
- Having at least one parent as a legal U.S. citizen
- Residing in the U.S and being in the physical custody of the U.S. citizen
This path to citizenship will only work if the foreign-born child is under the age of 18. Additionally, the laws and outcome of citizenship through this process will solely depend on the laws that were intact when one parent became a citizen through naturalization.
Citizenship Through Birth
There are many ways to become a U.S. citizen, and birth may be the most common for children. If you were someone who was born in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, or the U.S. Virgin Islands, you would automatically be granted citizenship.
On the other hand, if you are adopted, you can receive citizenship through adoption. If you are a child acquired by at least one U.S. parent after birth, then you are able to apply for naturalization after the age of 18.
Citizenship Through Acquisition
Sometimes, a child can automatically obtain citizenship even if they weren’t born on U.S. soil. For citizenship through acquisition, at least one parent must be a U.S. citizen at the time of birth.
Furthermore, if that child who has gained citizenship through acquisition gets married and has children, then their children will gain citizenship as well. Typically, a child can become a United States citizen with the help of these factors:
- Both parents were U.S. citizens: If both parents are U.S citizens at the time of the child’s birth, then the child automatically becomes a citizen.
- One parent was a U.S. citizen: As stated above, if at least one parent is a citizen, then the child will also be a citizen by default.
- Unmarried Parents: A child can still receive U.S. citizenship if the parents aren’t married. As long as the U.S. citizen parent can prove that they are a legal citizen, their child will receive the benefits of citizenship.
Can I Have Dual Citizenship?
This question doesn’t always have a straightforward answer. The United States does in fact allow dual citizenship. However, if your home country requires you to renounce your citizenship to it, then it must be done.
Apply for US Citizenship Today!
For many, becoming a citizen of the United States is a dream that many have. Luckily, it’s entirely possible to become a U.S. citizen. Even if the process seems expensive or time-consuming, the benefits are far worth it. At ImmigrationDirect, we can support you through every step of the naturalization or citizenship process you are eligible for.
For more questions about eligibility or how to become an American citizen, contact us today.