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U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization

The United States Citizenship is the legal status of an individual born in the U.S. or born to an American parent(s) or who has gone through the naturalization process as dictated by the law. Naturalization is the legal process for foreigners to become a citizen of the United States.

Citizenship status affords individuals with certain privileges and responsibilities. However, to acquire that status by naturalization, several criteria must be met, as the citizenship of “The Land of the Free” is highly coveted. Citizens are crucial to the shaping of the general identity of a country. Be it social, civic, economic, or other kind of contribution that citizens could add to the fabrication of a country’s identity.

In the United States, immigration has always played a vital role in the country’s development. Foreign workers, investors, international students, and many others have, one way or the other, added their quota to the country’s development.

Also, the privileges that the U.S. has to offer its residents are a major reason why many foreigners consider it a place to be. Due to the limits to such privileges, the ultimate goal is often for foreigners to walk their way to being naturalized as legal citizens of the country.

Benefits, Rights, and Responsibilities of U.S. Citizenship

United States Citizenship is the pathway to the essential rights of the democratic experience of an American. Citizens have the right to vote and be voted for in federal elections while possessing a U.S. passport for international travel.

Citizens of the U.S. are protected from deportation, can have a job and live in the country as long as they want to. They can also use programs that the government runs, like Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, etc.

As there are benefits and rights, so are their responsibilities, such as paying taxes, serving in court juries, in the military, etc. The United States Citizenship is a firm reflection of equality, democracy, and countless opportunities.

Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship

There are different pathways to securing U.S. citizenship. However, it can be primarily categorized into two: birthright and derivative citizenship:

Birthright Citizenship (Jus Sanguinis)

U.S. Citizenship can be passed through blood ties, meaning that the child of an American citizen is automatically an American. This is known as citizenship by descent, birthright citizenship, or jus sanguinis, which implies that a child with at least one American citizen as a parent is an American, regardless of where they were born.

However, note that there are specific requirements that the USCIS uses to establish the parent’s citizenship, which will also affirm that of the child. How long the American parent has been present in the United States, the lawful relationship between the American parent and the child, among others.

Also, according to the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1868, “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” Every individual born on U.S. soil is automatically a citizen of the United States, regardless of the parent’s nationality.

Derivative Citizenship through Legal Processes

As the name may imply, derivative citizenship is the opposite of birthright citizenship. This is when an individual acquires U.S. citizenship, even if they were not originally born as citizens of the United States. A non-U.S. citizen can become a U.S. citizen by legal processes, one of which is being adopted by citizen(s) of the United States. Some criteria must be met to ensure the success of this process. It is best to speak to an immigration professional for wholesome insight into what is expected in your unique situation.

Other legal processes that can lead to acquiring U.S. citizenship include marrying an American, naturalization of parents, military service, etc. The legal process of an individual who was not born as a U.S. citizen acquiring United States citizenship is what is called Naturalization.

How to Become a U.S. Citizen through Naturalization

The most common way a person becomes a U.S. citizen is by being born in the U.S.. However, if you were born in another country, you can still become a citizen of the United States through naturalization.

There are certain requirements to be eligible for citizenship through naturalization. Listed below are some of them:

  • You must be a Permanent Resident for at least five years. If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you have to be a Permanent Resident for three years.
  • While you are a Permanent Resident, you have to live in the U.S. for more than half of the five years. If you are a Permanent Resident and married to a U.S. citizen, you have to live in the U.S. for more than half of the three years.
  • You have to follow the laws of the U.S. This is called having “good moral character.” A person can still become a citizen if they have broken the law before, but it depends on what law they broke. A naturalization lawyer can help you understand this rule.
  • You have to go to an interview at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). A USCIS official asks questions, and you have to answer as honestly as possible. The questions generally test U.S. civic and English language knowledge. Any of our naturalization lawyers can help you adequately prepare for the interview.

It is not always easy to become a U.S. citizen. Answering all the questions on the applications can be confusing and take a lot of time. The interview process can too. But it is possible! Other details to note about the naturalization process include:

  • The applicant must submit an Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) to USCIS. The form collects personal details, residency, and other relevant data of the applicant.
  • A biometrics appointment is scheduled after the application is submitted, to capture photographs, fingerprints, etc, for further background checks.
  • Applicants must show reasonable proficiency in English Language and knowledge of the United States history, government, and civic responsibilities of citizens. This aspect is called the Civic and Language Test.
  • A personal interview is conducted for the applicant by a USCIS officer to affirm details already submitted in the submitted forms and tests. It is also an avenue to check if the applicant meets the eligibility criteria.
  • USCIS reviews the results of the application process and approves or denies the application.
  • If approved, the applicant will be scheduled to attend the naturalization ceremony to take the Oath of Allegiance, signifying that the applicant is now a U.S. citizen.
  • A Certificate of Naturalization is issued as proof that the individual is now a citizen of the United States.

It is a dream of many residents of the United States, or even non-residents, to one day become a citizen of the country. Without a doubt, it is a tedious process that requires the guidance of immigration professionals who have helped several individuals achieve that dream, especially as they are immigrants themselves.

U.S. Citizenship through Military Service

The U.S. Congress has the power to decide who can or cannot be naturalized. This means that Congress can make exceptions to the rules for naturalization, create new rules for naturalization, change existing laws for naturalization and even limit or expand the number of people on a given basis. Hence, congress has created exceptions and special rules for individuals who served in the U.S. armed forces.

If an individual served honorably in the U.S. armed forces for at least one year at any time, such person might be eligible to apply for naturalization. Not all the general naturalization requirements apply to members of the U.S. armed forces. They may have access to reduced residency requirements and even get some application process fees waived.

Whether deployed overseas or stationed within the country, non-citizens serving in the U.S. military can apply for citizenship. Also, the spouses and children of military service members can access special considerations as regards their citizenship.

Individuals applying for citizenship through military service may decide to handle their application themselves. However, consulting with an immigration attorney can be very helpful in managing the complexity of the process and understanding the laws and possible recent changes, denials, appeals, etc. Most importantly, every immigration case is unique to the applicant. Hence, having an immigration attorney is how to ensure the right steps are taken to match the uniqueness of the applicant.

Refugees and Asylees Naturalization Pathway to Citizenship

Refugees and asylees are individuals who seek refuge in the U.S. either because of persecution or violence in their home country or anything of that sort. The persecution may be racial, religious, political, etc. The United States allows this category of persons into the country with pathways available for them to naturalize and become citizens.

After living in the U.S. for a continuous one-year period, refugees and asylees can apply for a green card (permanent residency). If the green card application is granted, they can apply for citizenship after another four years. Other green card holders who are not refugees or asylees will usually wait for five years before applying for U.S. citizenship.

Asylees and refugees are also eligible for employment authorization, meaning they can be allowed to work in the country. While there may be unique details to each individual’s case, it’s important to seek the help of an immigration attorney in the process to ensure detailed insight for each case uniquely.

Contact CFUIS – Citizenship and Naturalization Lawyer

We know how the process works and will guide you through it. We will make sure you know what to do and when to so you can become a U.S. citizen.

Call us today at 813-298-7222chat on WhatsAppemail usfill out our contact form, or schedule an appointment. You can also learn more about becoming a Permanent Resident.