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How to Become a US Citizen

Settling in the U.S. in your mind? Work towards getting a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) by availing a Green Card. But that won’t give you equal rights as any other American to live and work in the United States. Moreover, you will have to renew your Green Card and travel with a foreign passport. So let’s discuss what’s the permanent solution to this.

But before we proceed, I have few questions for you.

  1. a) Are you at least 18 years old?
  2. b) Do you have any criminal record, such as murder, illegal gambling, or intentionally lying to the U.S. government in order to gain immigration benefits?
  3. c) Are you willing to serve the U.S. military or perform civilian service for the United States if called upon to do so?
  4. d) Are you ready to defend the U.S. Constitution?

If your answer is ‘no’ to any of the above questions, you have to convert it to ‘yes’ and only then will you be ready to move forward.

Primarily there are four ways to obtain U.S. citizenship and the most common procedure is through naturalization. Naturalization is the process through which an immigrant to the United States can become a U.S. citizen. And this option is available only to those immigrants who either have been green card holders for a minimum of three to five years (depending on the situation) or meet various military service requirements. Furthermore, you cannot take any trip of six months or longer outside of the United States during the three or five-year wait period and be a resident of the state where you plan to apply for citizenship for at least three months. You also must have physically lived in the United States for at least two-and-a-half years out of those three or five-year. If you are male by gender, you have to register with the Selective Service System and have lived in the United States between the ages of 18 and 25.

As you near your three or five-year wait period you need to start with the procedure. 90 days before reaching the end of the waiting period, you need to submit your N-400 to USCIS. On filing your Application for Naturalization, you will have to pay a filing fee of $725, including $640 for processing and $85 for biometrics services. Military applicants are exempt from both the application filing fee and the biometrics fee, while applicants aged 75 and older are exempt from the biometrics fee. Those who cannot afford the fee have the option of applying for a waiver to the U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Services (USCIS). You just need to file Form I-912, with your citizenship application along with a proper explanation and proof to why you cannot afford to pay the fee. The entire process can be done online as well by creating an online account with USCIS.

This will be followed by a biometrics appointment to take your fingerprints by your local USCIS field office. The third step is the interview, which is usually scheduled around 14 months after filing your application. The interview session is meant to verify all of the information you provided in your naturalization application. The two-part naturalization test also takes place during this interview. You need to clear two sections, the English language test, covering reading, writing, and speaking skills as well as the civics test, covering knowledge of U.S. history and government. You need not clear one test, or both the tests in special situations. Per application gets two chances to clear the tests.

The final step is the Oath of Allegiance ceremony, where you will be asked to return your green card and receive the Certificate of Naturalization.

But, if you have a parent who is a U.S. citizen, then you can simply file Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship or N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate to get your U.S. citizenship. Also, the United States law states that if any person is born within the United States (including the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands) is automatically granted U.S. citizenship.

How does one get a green card?

You can get a green card if you get married to a U.S. citizen. If you served in the U.S. military for at least one year during peacetime or are the widow or widower of a U.S. citizen who died while honourably serving in the U.S. military, you need not have held a green card for a certain number of years or have physically lived in the United States for any number of months prior to applying. Moreover, if you’ve served in the U.S. military for any period during wartime, you can apply anytime and need not even be a green card holder.