Getting US citizenship is one of the most significant decisions in a person’s life. The one who is applying for US citizenship must show his loyalty towards the government and law of that state and direct responsibility for the development of the state. After completing all the basic requirements and responsibilities, they get all the rights and privileges from the US government, which are given to all the citizens living there.

What are the requirements for US citizenship?

There are various ways and paths to get US citizenship. Every year, thousands of people apply for US citizenship after following and completing all the necessary steps to become US citizens. The requirements for becoming a US citizen are different in whether we apply for birth citizenship, after birth citizenship, or through naturalization.

1. US citizen at birth

If you want to register your child as a US citizen from his birth, it requires childbirth in the United States or certain territories or outlying possessions of the United States. Secondly, at least one of the child’s parents must have US citizenship at the time of his birth. If both requirements are fulfilled with necessary documents, then he/she is eligible for applying for US citizenship.

2. US citizen after birth

If you are not born in the US but still desire to become a US citizen, then one of your parents must have US citizenship, and you have to apply for “acquired” or “Derived” citizenship through your parents. The US government has practiced laws to decide how citizenship is conveyed to children born outside of the US or within the US from US citizen parents. The age limitation to get citizenship from parents is 18 years. The child who got citizenship from US citizen parents will remain in the parent’s custody till 18 years of their age.

3. Naturalization

Naturalization is the legal process and requirements in which a non-citizen of a country may acquire citizenship or nationality.

Eligibility Criteria for Naturalization:

  • Having age more than 18 years
  • Having a good moral character
  • Being able to read, write, understand and speak basic English at least.
  • Having a Permanent Resident Card of the United States or Alien registration card.
  • Having a green card for at least five years or three years when you are filing the naturalization application as the spouse of a US citizen.

Naturalization Process

Step by step guide of the naturalization process is given as follows;

  • File your application for the naturalization process: It is a time taking process that takes approximately 14 months or more. The faster you collect and submit all the required documents, the sooner you get a response on your application.
  • To attend your biometric appointments on time: You will be called for a biometric appointment after one month of receiving your application for US citizenship to collect your signatures, fingerprints, and photos.
  • A citizenship interview is also an essential step of the naturalization process that usually takes about 14 months. USCIS will send you an interview notice/letter that includes the date, venue, and a list of required documents for the interview.
  • Citizenship Exams are held on the same day of the interview in which basic English writing, reading, and speaking skills are tested. After that, a civics test is taken, covering the basic US history and knowledge of government. It is compulsory to clear both of these tests.
  • The last step is to receive a response on your application, whether it is approved or not. You can get a response on the same day, or it can be delayed due to a deficiency in documents or any other reason. Still, they will inform you about the status of your application on the same day of the citizenship interview and exam.
  • In case of selection, USCIS will send you an invitation for a naturalization ceremony through the mail. You will finally receive your naturalization certificate after taking the Oath of Allegiance and attending the naturalization ceremony.

Citizenship through Marriage

The third method is citizenship through marriage. If you are married to a US citizen, it’s easy for you to apply for a green card by submitting a form I- 130, a Petition for an Alien relative.

  • First, you have to submit your marriage certificate to prove its authenticity.
  • If an immigrant spouse is living outside of the US, they are first required to apply for a visa followed by an interview at the embassy. When an immigrant spouse enters the United States, they can file form I- 485 to adjust his status as a US citizen.
  • If the spouse already lives in the US, they can adjust the status by filing form I-130 and I- 485, applications to register permanent Residence, and adjustable status.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Having age more than 18 years
  • Having a good moral character, pays taxes on time, and hasn’t broken any serious laws.
  • Being able to read, write, understand and speak basic English at least.
  • A person who illegally entered the United States and married a US citizen cannot apply for citizenship easily.

Marriage requirements

  • In a marriage interview, there are detailed questions regarding your marriage, your relationship history, who is responsible for your bills and cooking, etc.
  • The immigrant spouse will not be able to apply for naturalization immediately after getting a green card; you must have a green card at least three years before applying for naturalization.
  • During the 3-year process, you must be physically present in the country for at least a year and a half. 
  • During these three years, you have to live as a married couple.
  • You must also live in the state or USCIS district (handling your application) for at least three months.

Citizenship through Military

The person who is honorably served the armed forces for a certain period of time is eligible for the naturalization process:

Eligibility Criteria

  • Having age more than 18 years
  • Having a good moral character, paying taxes on time, hasn’t broken any serious laws, and must-see as a positive member of society.
  • Being able to read, write, understand and speak basic English at least.
  • A person who illegally entered the United States and married a US citizen cannot apply for citizenship easily.
  • Also, have a basic understanding of the US government and history.
  • Must complete their military service honorably.
  • Have a green card and have served in the army for at least one month.

Filling for application

If you file your application through military service, you are required to complete a form N-400 (application for naturalization) and N-426 (request for certification for military and naval service). If you are selected, you have to swear an oath of allegiance, and you will get a naturalization certificate.

These are some important and basic ways of getting US citizenship explained in detail. I hope these ways will be really helpful for you. Thank you!

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