Initiative To Promote US Citizenship

June 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

The USCIS has started a campaign that focuses on promoting United States Citizenship. The campaign is aimed at urging the 12 million odd permanent residents (green card holders) in the US to become citizens. The importance of the campaign is highlighted by the fact that, perhaps for the first time the USCIS has launched a paid advertising campaign to promote American citizenship.

This campaign consists of advertisements on radio, TV, print media and Internet with messages in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and English. It is mainly targeted at major US states where there are many green card holders,California, New York, Florida and Texas, for instance. The initiative emphasizes mainly on the awareness of the rights, responsibilities, and importance of being a US citizen. It also throws light on the free naturalization preparation resources available to green card holders.

At present, there are 12.5 million green card holders in the US, and in that a size able 8 million Green Card holders are eligible to file the citizenship form. Mainly, green card holders want to live and work in the US permanently, and they can do that with a permanent resident status itself. This is the main reason why eligible green card holders do not run for citizenship. However, others things they are not aware of is that, citizenship gives them the benefit of voting, getting a US passport to travel without restrictions, obtain better jobs. Studies also reveal that people who become citizens earn more money too. It is an important step and a proud moment in fully integrating into a new society as a US citizen. You can vote, serve on a jury and get more involved in the political process.

Per USCIS, last year more than 700,000 green card holders applied to become US citizens, a significant 25% increase from the previous year. Green Card holders living in the US for 5 years, show good moral character as well as having the ability to pass an English and civics tests can apply for Naturalization. These alone aren’t enough to qualify. There are many other eligibility requirements that one needs to fulfill in order to qualify. USCIS’ main aim through this campaign is to increase awareness of the rights, responsibilities, and importance of US citizenship. USCIS is also keen in increasing the understanding of the naturalization process and requirements and create awareness of available citizenship preparation resources. Another point the USCIS wishes to drive is to educate eligible permanent residents about the steps they need to take while applying and preparing for the naturalization process.

The campaign advertisements have professional actors characterizing immigrant stories that focus on the diverse backgrounds of immigrants (past and present). The stories also make prominent, many of the motivating factors green card holders have stated as common reasons for going for US citizenship.

From the early 1900s, the government has been focusing on promoting an awareness of citizenship among immigrants to get naturalized. The present initiative continues and builds upon those efforts and supports the mission of the USCIS. Since July 2009, USCIS has reached out to more than 32,000 green card holders and potential naturalization applicants at nearly 560 naturalization information sessions through USCIS field offices, local community groups and immigrant-serving organizations.

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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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