Becoming a citizen of the United States of America shows the utmost loyalty to it’s Consitution and dedication to the U.S as a country. In return for this loyalty, you are rewarded with all the rights and privileges that are part of U.S. citizenship, something that is deeply sought after from people all over the world. But how can you go about becoming a citizen of the U.S?
What is the difference between Citizenship & Naturalization
When researching U.S citizenship you will also have likely come across the term, naturalization and so before we go any further let’s just clear up what they both mean to avoid any confusion.
- Naturalization is the legal process that an individual must go through in order to obtain citizenship.
- Citizenship is the status of a person who is recognized by law as being a legal member of a sovereign state or as belonging to a nation.
What are the ways in which you can become a U.S citizen?
There are in fact 9 ways to become a U.S citizen:
- Gaining US citizenship through the process of naturalization (which we will discuss in this post)
- Gaining US citizenship through birth
- Obtaining US citizenship through your parents
- Obtaining US citizenship through adoption
- Reclaiming lost citizenship
- Being granted posthumous citizenship
- Through the doctrine of constructive retention
- Through the doctrine of double constructive retention
- Through certificates of consular registration of birth
You can read more about the other ways in which you can become a US citizen, here.
How does naturalization work?
Immigration is a very personalised process and each citizenship is approved and granted on a case by case basis, however, to undergo citizenship by naturalization you must be able to prove the following.
That you are 18 years or older.
You must be at least 18 years of age to apply for naturalization, however, if you wish to apply and are under 18 years of age then you can still do so but will need to follow slightly different procedures which are laid out for Naturalized Citizen’s children.
Show your green card
To apply for citizenship by naturalization you must have already been granted your green card and be a permanent resident of the united states. If you have yet to get a green card you will need to do this first and then live in the US for at least 5 years as a lawful permanent resident before applying for naturalization. Whilst living in the US for these five years you must not leave the US for any duration longer than one year, this stops people from gaining their green card, living somewhere else and then applying for US citizenship.
You must be able to demonstrate good moral character
To be granted US citizenship you must be able to show that you are a good person, this not only applies to the time you have spent in the US but also your life prior to your move. You will have already needed to demonstrate your good moral character in order to obtain your green card and so you can be fairly certain that you have already proved that you are a good person so long as you have not received any new convictions since that date.
You must be able to show your attachment to the constitution
An important part of naturalization is being able to demonstrate that you follow the principles of the U.S constitution. The 6 core principles of the US constitution are:
- Popular Sovereignty
- Limited Government
- Separation of Power
- Checks and Balances
- Individual Rights
You must be able to speak the English language
In order to become a citizen by naturalization, you must be able to proficiently read, write and speak the English language, this will be tested during the naturalization process.
You must pass the naturalization exam
To demonstrate your knowledge of American history and the American government you will need to pass the Naturalization exam. There are a number of free naturalization exams online to help you practice, and tutors can also be hired to help with specific aspects of American and government history.
You must take the Oath of Allegiance
Finally, the last step in becoming a U.S. citizen is taking the Oath of Allegiance which will be administered by an immigration official or judge.
Becoming a U.S Citizen is a long and complex process designed to ensure that only those people who are truly loyal to the United States and live by the values of the Constitution eventually become U.S citizens. Although a tiresome and at times difficult process the benefits of U.S citizenship are enough to attract hundreds of thousands of applicants each year and so if you are serious about gaining U.S citizenship then stay motivated and knuckle down and achieve this goal.