Becoming a US Citizen
Individuals who are citizens of other countries can become US citizens through a process called naturalization. By meeting residency requirements, testing, and other conditions, non-US citizens can eventually apply for naturalization in the US. This article will provide a brief overview of some of the requirements and steps of the process. Given that individuals come to the US with different backgrounds, please consult an experienced immigration attorney for tailored advice.
Prior to submitting the application (Form N-400, Application for Naturalization), individuals should go through the eligibility requirements and understand whether they qualify. Note that those filing the application must be at least 18 years old. One of the most important criteria includes being a permanent resident in the US and spending at least five years in the country (with the exception of permanent residency acquired through marriage to a U.S. citizen). This can seem like a long time, especially since many immigrants (who live here legally through other visas) must first go through a lengthy process for attaining a Green Card (permanent residency). Furthermore, the citizenship application must be filed less than six months before the expiry of the Green Card. Other steps include taking a naturalization test, attending an interview, and some applicants may be required to have a biometrics appointment.
The residency requirement for those married to a US citizen
The residency requirement mentioned above is slightly different for those married to a US citizen. In their case, the residence requirement decreases to three years. For all, the continuous residence cannot be broken up with six months (or longer) breaks without documented explanations. Furthermore, the applicant is required to speak, read, and write English. However, not all cases are straightforward. Some applicants may face other issues due to their personal or immigration histories and, as such, an immigration attorney can best consult applicants on their eligibility, rights, and the citizenship procedure.