How to Become Naturalized in the United States

There are many reasons why someone would want to become a citizen of the United States. It might be that they have married a U.S. citizen and are moving to this country, or they have been living in the States for so long that it has become their home. There are four ways to become a U.S. citizen: through marriage, through parents, through the military, or through naturalization. In this article we will look at naturalization – what it means and how the process works.

What Does Citizenship Through Naturalization Mean?

Gaining citizenship through naturalization means that you are choosing to become a citizen of the United States. Naturalization is the legal process of gaining citizenship of a country from which you do not originate. If you choose to apply for naturalization in the U.S., it means that you are agreeing to be bound by laws, accept the rights and responsibilities of being a citizen, and agree to owe your allegiance to the U.S. In return, you will be entitled to the protection of the U.S.

How to Become a U.S. Citizen Through Naturalization

You must already hold a green card to become a naturalized citizen. A green card will be issued to foreign nationals living legally in the country. This might include spouses, parents, and unmarried children under the age of twenty-one of a U.S. citizen. Green cards are typically issued quickly for those in these categories. Other categories include siblings, married adult children, and unmarried children over the age of twenty-one. People in these categories may have to wait for several years before receiving their green card.

Green cards may also be issued to those who have been sponsored by an employer, although those with specialized skills may be able to apply for a green card themselves without the need for a sponsor. Legal refugees and asylum seekers can also apply for a green card.

According to the expert immigration attorneys at Graham Adair, you will need to have held your green card for at least five years before applying for naturalization, unless you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen, where you would need to have held your green card for a minimum of three years. They also point out that you must apply for a new green card before you apply for naturalization if your current card is only valid for another six months or less or if your card has expired already.

You do not need to wait for your new green card to arrive before you apply for naturalization, but you will need to have a photocopy of the application for the new card to hand.

Eligibility Criteria

You must be eighteen years of age when applying for naturalization and you must have a good command of the English language as you will be tested on this. You will need to be able to demonstrate that you can read, write, and speak English, and you will also be tested on United States history and will be asked questions about the United States government.

In terms of residency requirements, you must have been present in the U.S. for a minimum of five years prior to submitting your application for naturalization. You need to prove that during those five years you were physically present in the U.S. for at least half of that time, living in the same USCIS district or state.

Your eligibility requirements will be checked as will your character. Only those considered to be law-abiding individuals contributing positively to society will be granted citizenship through naturalization.

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