Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Basic Requirements for Naturalization
You May Qualify for Naturalization if:
- You have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and meet all other eligibility requirements;
- You have been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen; or
- You have qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements.
An applicant for naturalization must:
- Have lived within his or her state of residence for at least 3 months prior to the filing date of the application;
- Have continuous residence in the U.S. as a green card holder for at least 5 years (or 3 years where applicable) immediately preceding the filing date of the application (absences of six months or more outside the U.S. may disrupt continuous residence);
- Be physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months (or 18 months, where applicable) immediately preceding the date of filing the application;
- Have the ability to read, write, and speak English and have a knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government. (Exceptions exist for applicants over 50 years old who have been permanent residents for at least 20 years; or for those with a physical or mental impairment).
- Be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well-disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law.
Dual Citizenship & Oath of Allegiance
The U.S. does NOT require individuals to give up citizenship in their home county. In many cases, they can retain it as well as maintain U.S. citizenship. However, to become a U.S. citizen, you must take the Oath of Allegiance, where you promise to swear allegiance to the U.S., and support and defend the Constitution and U.S. laws. You must promise to serve the country when required.
Advantages of Becoming a U.S. Citizen
Voting and Participation in the Electoral Process
U.S. citizens reserve the right to vote in federal, state and local elections. The right to vote and participate in the electoral process is the most significant way U.S. citizens can influence the governmental process.
U.S. citizens have the ability to bring family members from other countries into the United States. U.S. citizens generally get preferential consideration when asking the government to bring family members to the U.S. on a permanent basis. In many cases, children born abroad to parents who are U.S. citizens are automatically citizens of the United States.
Worry Free Travel
A U.S. passport allows travelers to get assistance from the U.S. government’s embassies and consulates when outside the country. Traveling with a U.S. passport allows quick and easy entry into many countries.
Citizenship affords employment opportunities within the United States. Most federal agencies require U.S. citizenship; only U.S. citizens can hold elected offices; and U.S. citizens may also wish to serve their country in the military.
Benefits such as Social Security, assisting in retirement, and Federal Student Aid, assisting with education costs, are just a few of the many government benefits available to U.S. citizens.
Learn More About the U.S. Naturalization Process
Berardi Immigration Law is a full-service business immigration law firm that provides top-notch services to corporate clients and individual business professionals. Founded as a solo-practice in 2005 by Managing Partner Rosanna Berardi, the firm has grown exponentially over the years.
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