How to Become a US Citizen - The Ways of Becoming a US Citizen

How to Become a US Citizen - The Ways of Becoming a US Citizen

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Becoming a U.S. citizen is a dream of many. Every year thousands of citizen candidates seek ways to obtain U.S. citizenship. This is because U.S. citizenship has various advantages that range from voting to running for office rights. Getting citizenship is also a symbolic milestone as it officially confirms that now you are an “American.” In that regard, here in this writing, we will weigh how you can become a U.S. citizen and provide ideas for your best way forward!

Birth in the US or Its Outlying Possessions

If you are born inside the U.S. or one of its outlying possessions, you are automatically granted U.S. citizenship! The outlying possessions of the U.S. are territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam.

Birthright citizenship is as old as the United States, and it was constituted as a right in the Fourteenth Amendment:

All persons born or naturalized in the U.S., and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the U.S. and the State wherein they reside.

However, there is an exception to this right for children whose parents are foreign diplomats working in the U.S. at the time of the child’s birth.

Birth to Citizen Parent(s) – “Acquisition”

If you are born outside of the U.S. to a citizen parent or parents, you may “acquire” citizenship through your parent or parents.

However, as the name suggests, you are not automatically granted citizenship at birth. Instead, to acquire citizenship through your parent or parents, you need to apply for a citizenship certificate by filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Moreover, the requirements for you to be eligible for acquisition differ according to the number of citizen parents you have.

Please be reminded that the current laws regulating the requirements and procedures of acquisition are valid for children born on or after the 14th of November 1986.

If both of your parents were U.S. citizens at the time of your birth:

Your parents must have been married at the time of your delivery, and at least one of your parents must have lived in the U.S. before the birth.

If only one of your parents was a U.S. citizen at the of your birth:

Your parents must have been married at the time of your delivery, and the citizen parent must have lived in the U.S. for at least five years before dawn. Lastly, two years of the five years lived in the U.S must be after the citizen parent’s 14th birthday.

Naturalization

Naturalization is the process by which green card holders (with exceptions) of the U.S. can become a U.S. citizens. Paths to naturalization vary from applicant to applicant and, therefore, can be a long and confusing journey for some. There are multiple categories with which the citizen candidate can apply for U.S. citizenship. And eligibility requirements for naturalization vary according to the candidate's category. To reach the categories and look into their specific requirements, please see Citizenship and Naturalization. However, there are still standard requirements that every candidate must meet to be eligible for naturalization:

Listed requirements with a star symbol () means that there are exceptions to them based on military service *

  • The citizen candidate must be a Green Cardholder*
  • (The time you must spend as a permanent resident in the U.S. varies according to your category)
  • The citizen candidate must complete their category's wait time after the Green Card is issued*
  • The citizen candidate must be at least 18 years of age.
  • The citizen candidate must not take trips six months or longer outside of the U.S. during their designated wait time before naturalization application.
  • The citizen candidate must have been residing in the state s/he applies for naturalization for at least three months.
  • The citizen candidate must have a good moral character. Please see this PDF file to understand better 'what having a good moral character entails. (Starting with page 9)
  • The citizen candidate must accept to serve in the U.S. when called upon for national duty.
  • The citizen candidate must be willing to protect the Constitution of the U.S.

To reach the categories and look into their specific requirements, please see Citizenship and Naturalization.

You may also find this useful online Naturalization Eligibility Tool prepared by USCIS, automatically articulating your eligibility with criteria questions.

Children of Parent(s) Who Completed Their Naturalization – “Derivation”

If you are born into the parent(s) who are naturalized, you may be eligible for naturalization through your parent(s). This is called “derivation,” as you ‘derive’ citizenship from your naturalized parent(s). To be eligible for derivation, you must be younger than 18 with a green card and be physically present in the U.S. under the supervision of your family.

As we explained, there are numerous ways to become a U.S. citizen. Whether you are born in the U.S., born into a U.S. citizen or naturalized parents, or have a green card, you can be a U.S. citizen or get the chance to be one! If you know your status and how to proceed with your application, you will be officially recognized as an “American” and join the thousands of people whose dreams came true!

We look forward to hearing from you with any questions and inquiries concerning becoming a citizen and cannot wait to be a part of your citizenship journey!

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