Immigrants from countries across the world have visions of becoming a citizen of The United States of America, the land of opportunity. Arriving there is the first step of a long journey to getting citizenship. We all have a general idea of U.S. Immigration Law. There are three other options for obtaining U.S. citizenship apart from having a green card, but having a green card is the most common route.
Written exclusively for Expat Network by Jais Frank, co-founder of The Parents Magazine
A green card is a key to becoming a citizen of the United States of America. When you get a green card that means, you have become a legal permanent citizen of the United States. You will be able to live and also work freely anywhere in the US.
You can get a green card in the following circumstances:
- If you have a relative who has citizenship of the United States. Then they can sponsor you. Unmarried children under the age of 21, a spouse, and parents can be sponsored by a U.S citizen. For green cards, these relatives need to wait for a minimal period. On the other hand, the wait time for adult married children, children over 21 years and siblings will have to wait for a significant time.
- If you have a qualifying job offer, you can get a green card when you move to the United States of America; with a permanent job offer. Your employer can petition for a green card for you. Immigrants with demonstrated exceptional abilities can petition themselves and do not need a sponsor.
- If you are in the U.S. legally having been granted asylum or refugee status, you may also petition for a green card. But you need to be in one of these categories and also have to live in the United States of America for a year.
Here are the requirements to obtain U.S. citizenship:
- You have to prove that you have had a permanent home in the U.S immediately before you apply for naturalization,. So, if you plan to apply for naturalization in October 2025, you have to have had a permanent home in the U.S. from October 2020.
- You also need to prove that, in those five years, you were physically present in the United States of America for at least two and a half years.
- You also have to prove that for at least 30 months, you have lived in the same USCIS or state as per the Legal Guides.
The personal requirements refer to your age, your good character, knowledge of the U.S. language, and understanding of the United States constitution and government.
- The day you file your application for naturalization, you must be at least 18 years old.
- Your knowledge of speaking, writing, and reading English will be evaluated during the citizenship test,
- You must have some basic knowledge of United States history and the United States government.
- And lastly, you must have good moral character, which means you are a law-abiding person who will be a contributing member of this society.
Complete Your Application
When you meet all the requirements, it is time to fill up the application. For Naturalization, you need to complete Form N-400. It is important to be careful filling out this form and avoid any errors.
- Your application must include documents to support your answers in the application. For example, you will need to attach documents to prove your legal permanent residence.
- You also need to pay the fees along with your application form within the due period. If you fail to pay the fee, your application will be rejected.
- You also need to provide a photograph, fingerprint, and an electronic signature with these biometrics to ensure you are who you say you are and to verify your background.
The Citizenship Test
You also need to go through a test as a part of the citizenship interview,. Here the USCIS officer will ask you questions about your application form, your background. Your knowledge of civics and command of English will also be evaluated here.
The Citizenship Interview
Once the biometric application is made, you will receive a letter, which will include the time, date, and venue of your citizenship interview. There will also be a list of documents that you need to take with you.
The Oath Of Allegiance
The final step is that you will be sent an invitation by email to the naturalization ceremony. You need to answer the questions on the back of Form 445 and they will also be reviewed by an officer during the naturalization ceremony. After completion of the ceremony, you will be given your naturalization certificate. This is the proof of your citizenship in the United States of America and will need to kept safe..