5 Different Paths to U.S. Citizenship
The United States has always been known as the “land of opportunity,” attracting immigrants from all over the world with its promise of freedom and prosperity. What many realize when coming here is that the U.S. offers more opportunities and privileges to its citizens than to immigrants. This includes rights such as:
- The right to vote
- The ability to apply for many federal employment positions
- Holding federal office
- Protections of a U.S. passport
- Ability to bring family members to the U.S. from abroad
- Financial aid
- Immunity from deportation
For these rights, many will want to begin the path to U.S. citizenship. However, the path to U.S. citizenship is a challenging one and can be a daunting process for many immigrants. If you need help immigrating, contact the New York immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of Diron Rutty, LLC for help.
Understanding U.S. Citizenship
Before explaining the different paths to citizenship, it’s important to understand what being a U.S. citizen means. A citizen of the United States is a person who is granted full rights, privileges, and responsibilities by the government of the United States. We’ve already detailed the rights, but we also need to include responsibilities. U.S. citizens also have to pay taxes and serve on a jury when called upon.
Pathways to U.S. Citizenship
There are several ways in which an immigrant can become a U.S. citizen. These include:
- Born in the United States: Amendment XIV, Section 1, Clause 1, still states that any person born within the United States is automatically a U.S. citizen, regardless of their parent’s immigration status.
- Derivation through Parents: Children under the age of 18 can become citizens if one or both of their parents become naturalized as U.S. citizens. This means that by becoming a citizen, your child can potentially gain citizenship as well.
- Naturalization: This is the process by which a foreign citizen becomes a U.S. citizen after meeting certain requirements and passing a citizenship test.
- Adoption: Children adopted by U.S. citizens may automatically become citizens, similar to the process of derivation through parentage.
- Special Programs for Military Members: Certain members of the military can expedite their path to citizenship through special programs.
Becoming a U.S. Citizen Through Naturalization
Naturalization is the most common way for immigrants to become U.S. citizens. To be eligible for naturalization, a person must meet the following criteria:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Reside in the U.S. as a permanent resident (green card holder) for at least 5 years or 3 years if you’re married to a U.S. citizen
- Being physically present in the country for a certain amount of time
- Be able to read, write, and speak basic English
- Pass a civics test on U.S. history and government
Once you meet these requirements, you can file Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization) with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This process can take several months to complete and may involve an interview with a USCIS officer.
Other Considerations for Citizenship
It’s important for immigrants to also be aware of specific considerations they have to make when pursuing U.S. citizenship. You may want or even have to complete some extra processes depending on what country you are immigrating from.
- Dual Citizenship: The United States allows dual citizenship, meaning a person can be a citizen of more than one country at the same time. However, some countries may not allow it, so it’s important to research the laws of the country you are immigrating from as well before pursuing dual citizenship.
- Renouncing Previous Citizenship: Some countries require individuals to renounce their previous citizenship when becoming a U.S. citizen. It’s important to understand these rules before proceeding with naturalization.
- Language and Civics Exceptions: Some individuals may be exempt from the English language requirement or civics test due to age or certain disabilities. It’s important to check with USCIS for these exceptions.
Contact the Attorneys at the Law Offices of Diron Rutty, LLC for Help
Becoming a U.S. citizen is a significant milestone for many immigrants, but it’s important to understand the different pathways and requirements involved. By following the proper steps and seeking guidance when needed, an immigrant can successfully achieve their dream of becoming a proud U.S. citizen.
Many people will need legal assistance to meet certain legal requirements based on where they’re immigrating from and how they’re seeking U.S. citizenship. For legal representation and help, contact the immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of Diron Rutty, LLC.