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Citizenship defines an individual’s rights and responsibilities to a country. U.S. citizenship comes with many benefits, including voting rights, being able to petition for relatives to immigrate, and traveling abroad and returning to the U.S. freely. Citizens of the United States can be native-born, foreign-born, or naturalized. These individuals have a duty of allegiance to the U.S. and therefore benefit from its protection. If you were not born a U.S. citizen, you may still become one at any stage of your life. You must first determine if you are eligible. The first step toward becoming a citizen is to become a lawful permanent resident or a green card holder. Then, you must go through the naturalization process. This is the name of the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. If you are already a Green Card holder, becoming a U.S. Citizen has many benefits over only holding permanent residency. For one, you will be able to take long trips outside of the U.S. (longer than a year), which you can’t do with a Green Card without first obtaining a Reentry Permit. Another practical advantage of Citizenship is that you cannot be deported for committing certain crimes–as is the case with a Green Card. A final advantage we will mention here is that once you are a Citizen, you can petition for more of your family members to immigrate to the United States (parents, siblings, and married children); categories of family that a Green Card holder cannot sponsor. Continue reading below to see if you could be eligible for U.S. citizenship. Related form: N-400
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
There are several different paths to naturalization and becoming a U.S. citizen. Here, we will outline the most common, however, there are other ways to become a U.S. citizen. The most common way to become a U.S. citizen is to naturalize after five years of being a legal permanent resident (LPR). There are some other eligibility requirements, including (but not limited to): passing the U.S. naturalization test on U.S. history and government in English, being physically present in the U.S. for at least thirty months out of the last five years, and being a person of good moral character. The second most-common way is to be the spouse of a U.S. citizen, who is also a legal permanent resident. It is the same process as naturalizing as a Lawful Permanent Resident, except that if you are a spouse, you can do it after only three years of being an LPR, and by being physically present in the U.S. for eighteen months out of the last three years. Another way to be eligible to naturalize is if you have qualifying U.S. military service, or if you are the dependent of someone who has qualifying military service. You may also naturalize if you are the child of a U.S. citizen, as long as your parent became a U.S. citizen before you turn(ed) eighteen years old. Your parent(s) can be born a U.S. citizen, have naturalized themselves, and they can be your parent(s) through blood, birth, or adoption. Note: there are some additional requirements for all categories of naturalization outlined above, as well as additional and less common ways to become a U.S. citizen.
Do I have to become a US citizen?
It is possible to remain for life in the status of a permanent resident (resident), and not become a citizen of the United States.
What is meant by “permanently resident” in the US?
You must be in the US for at least half the time you wait before applying for citizenship. In most cases, it’s 2.5 years. Those who received a Green Card on the basis of marriage to a US citizen should spend at least a year and a half in the US. If spouses of US citizens reside outside the United States because of their employment in US government agencies, this requirement does not apply.
If I moved to another state, can I apply immediately for citizenship?
You must reside in your state for at least three months before applying for naturalization in the immigration office at your place of residence.
Can I reserve the citizenship of another country?
Many were born abroad and automatically have dual citizenship. US legislation does not welcome this but does not prohibit dual citizenship. A country where you already are a citizen can automatically deprive you of citizenship if you accept US citizenship through naturalization since the oath of allegiance to America requires the renunciation of loyalty to another country.
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