How Can I Become a US citizen?

February 4, 2011 § 1 Comment

It is a dream for many immigrants to become citizens of the United States. There are two ways through which you can become a citizen of the US. It is either by birth or through Naturalization. Naturalization is the process where a person not born in the United States voluntarily becomes a U.S. citizen. An applicant who wishes to become citizen of the US should file Form N- 400, the citizenship application.

The Eligibility Requirements :

All applicants need to meet certain strict eligibility requirements to become citizen of the US. The applicant should be:

  • 18 years or older.
  • a permanent resident (Green Card holder). In normal circumstances, he/she should be a permanent resident for five years to be eligible to file the N 400 application. If married to a US citizen, then it is three years of permanent residency. It is that the applicant has to be in marriage to a U.S citizen and should be living with that U.S citizen for the past 3 three years of his/her permanent residency for the criteria to be applicable.
  • residing in the United States for a continuous period before filing the citizenship application. If the applicant is not married to an American citizen, he/she should reside in the U.S. for a continuous period of five years after admission to the U.S. as a permanent resident. If married to a U.S. citizen, he/she must reside in the U.S. for a continuous period of three years following admission to the U.S. as a permanent resident.

A long absence from the U.S. will break the continuity of the applicant’s residence in the U.S. for naturalization purposes. It, however may not affect one’s ability to return to the U.S. as a permanent resident. Though an absence from the U.S. of less than six months will not break the continuity of residence in the U.S. for citizenship purposes, absence for a period of six months or more breaks the continuity of residence. However, if the break is between six months and one year, it can be excused if a reasonable explanation can be provided for the absence (e.g. overseas employment). If the break is for over one year, the continuity of residence can be preserved and the break excused, if necessary steps are taken prior to the expiration of a year abroad to preserve the residence and if the applicant meets certain qualifications.

Additionally, the applicant should have met physical presence requirements too. He/she should be physically present in the US for a certain number of months to be eligible to file the citizenship application. Before applying for US citizenship, the applicant should have resided in his/her current state for at least three months. Here, current state means the state where he/she is submitting the N 400 application.

Another significant factor is that the applicant should not have broken any US immigration laws and should not have been ordered to leave the US. Applicants should also prove at least 5 years of good moral character.

Apart from these, applicants should be prepared to take an English language test and a Civics test. Normally, citizenship applicants should establish to the satisfaction of the interviewing officer that they can read, write and speak basic English and that they also have basic knowledge of US history and government. Certain applicants can be exempted if they have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, where it affects their ability to learn English and Civics. And lastly, applicants should be prepared to take an oath of allegiance to the United States to finally become citizen of the United States.

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