Foreign nationals may legally enter the United States through non-immigrant visas or by attaining Permanent Residency status whereby an individual receives a Green Card. Unlike non-immigrant visas, which limit the length of stay in the U.S., a Green Card enables individuals to work and remain in the United States indefinitely. An individual may be granted Lawful Permanent Residency by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through one of the following ways: employment sponsorship, employment sponsorship, family sponsorship, the annual diversity lottery, qualified investment or extenuating circumstances such as political asylum.
Being a citizen of the United States is a requirement for legal employment as well many of the privileges afforded by government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, as well as retirement benefits from Social Security.
If you are not born a United States Citizen you may still be eligible for U.S. citizenship through the normal naturalization process. Naturalization is an administrative process that requires a non-citizen to comply with a whole host of immigration laws. The qualifications for citizenship generally require the following:
- Residence in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident for 5 years (3 years if married to a US citizen), more than half of which included physical presence in the U.S.
- Further, the individual seeking citizenship must not have another permanent residency in any other country during such time.
- Meet requirements for “good character”
- Interview with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS)
The application and interview process for U.S. citizenship can be complicated and time consuming. Our immigration law firm can help you navigate the very complex requirements and procedural rules of the application process.