The American dream is a common goal for most people from all over the world. To become a full citizen of the United States, one must first make it here. Obtaining a green card is the most common way for immigrants to remain in the United States legally (becoming a legal permanent resident).
This country has a few ways for immigrants to become citizens. We explain them below.
A child born on American soil immediately receives US citizenship. Unless the child is born to a foreign government official who is in the United States as a recognized diplomat.
Children born in specific U.S. territories, such as Puerto Rico, the Northern Marianna Islands, and Guam, can also become citizens of the United States provided at least one of their parents is an American citizen.
2. By Marriage
Your US spouse can help in becoming a US citizen. However, to become a citizen of the United States, you must have a Permanent Resident (Green) Card for at least five years, or three years if filing as a spouse of a U.S. citizen.
Applying for citizenship under the three-year rule, requires you to have been “living in marital union”. This simply means you must have been living with your US spouse for at least three years prior to filing. This “living in marital union” part is not required under the five-year rule. To be clear, the requirement of “living in marital union” is only in effect until you file your naturalization application. You must also remain married until you are through with the whole process.
If you divorce your American spouse before the three-year mark, you will be ineligible under the three-year rule and must apply under the five-year rule. If your marriage has ended, it may seem like this is a setback in your quest for US citizenship but it doesn’t stop you from becoming a citizen.
If you were born outside the United States, you can obtain citizenship by naturalization. To apply for naturalization, you must have been a permanent resident in the United States for three or five years, depending on the category under which you are applying.
Additional eligibility requirements include the following:
- When you apply, you must be at least 18 years old.
- Basic English reading, writing, and speaking skills
- A morally upright person
Once you meet all requirements, you will have to follow the 10-step naturalization process, which involves the following steps:
- Determining your eligibility to become a citizen.
- Filling out form N-400, the naturalization application, and registering for a free account to submit your form online.
- Taking the Naturalization Test and having a personal interview in the United States.
In some cases, a child born outside the US automatically acquires citizenship. Several qualifications must be met, including at least one parent is a US citizen at the time of birth. If this youngster marries and has offspring, those children may be born citizens. Among the ways a kid can get citizenship are:
- Both parents are Americans.
Both parents must be US citizens at the time of birth, married at birth, and at least one parent must have lived in the US, its territories, or both before the child’s birth.
- One parent is American.
The child was born on or after Nov. 14, 1986; the parents were married at the time of birth; and the US citizen parent was physically present in the US or its territories for at least five years before the birth, two of which were after their 14th birthday.
The applicant must file an Application for Certificate of Citizenship, Form N-600, with the US government to obtain official evidence of their citizenship. The laws have changed many times. So, you’ll need to investigate the law in place on the child’s (and parents, if grandparents were US citizens) birthdate. If you are uncertain or have a complicated circumstance, speak to an immigration lawyer.
Adoption allows some children to become citizens of the United States. Adoptive parents who wish their children to become citizens must have legal and physical custody. If one of the following conditions is met, the kid can become a citizen of the United States:
- They’ve been legally present in the United States with the child for at least two years, and the parents adopted the child before 16 years old.
- The child must have arrived in the United States as an orphan (IR-4) or as a Convention adoptee (IH-4) to be adopted. The parents must have adopted the child before they reached the age of eighteen.
- Before turning 18, the child was adopted outside of the United States and admitted to the United States as an orphan (IR-3) or Convention adoptee (IH-3).