People around the world attempt to attain U.S. citizenship each year. Those who are not born in the United States need to follow a path to citizenship in order to have the rights and privileges that come with being a U.S. citizen.
Reasons that people consider citizenship
There are several reasons that people consider citizenship. Some may be seeking political asylum or protection from adverse circumstances in their home countries. Others may want the rights and privileges that come with being a citizen of the United States. Whatever the reason, taking the proper steps to citizenship will ensure that you obtain the legitimate status of being an American. Other reasons that people might consider obtaining citizenship include:
- Having the privilege of voting
- Being able to serve on a jury
- The opportunity to travel with a United States passport
- The opportunity to bring your other family members to the United States
- The opportunity to obtain citizenship for children under the age of 18
- The opportunity to apply for federal jobs
- Being able to become an elected official
- The ability to keep and retain a US residency
- The opportunity to become eligible for grants and scholarships
- The opportunity to obtain government benefits and protections
Steps to citizenship
Once an individual is eligible to apply for citizenship, the process typically takes 6 months or longer. Follow these steps to obtain your certification:
1. Obtain a green card
The first step to naturalization is obtaining a green card. You’ll need to live and work in the United States for at least five years, gaining employment and residency, before being allowed to proceed with citizenship. While you do not need to reside in the U.S. for the entire five years. you must be present at least 30 consecutive months in the country to be eligible for the next steps.
2. Complete the USCIS form N-400
This form is a complete accounting of all of your background information; it will enable you to take legal actions like obtaining a name change, purchasing property, etc. The cost of filling out this form is not cheap–completion is $595 dollars, with an additional $80 required as a biometrics fee. There are serious penalties for failing to disclose accurate information on this form, so proceed carefully, and ask questions if you have any uncertainty about what you are sharing.
3. Get fingerprinted
Upon acceptance of your form and application, you will need to set a date for fingerprinting and biometrics at your local customs office. These will be used to perform background checks through the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
4. Pass an interview and naturalization test
An appointment must be made with an evaluator who will go over the details of your USCIS form and ask you additional questions about your intentions concerning citizenship. You must have a basic understanding of English, civics, history, and government as a demonstration of your desire to integrate with American society. If you should happen to fail the first time around, you are given a second chance to pass the test; prepare in advance, and ask for additional help if needed.
5. Attend your oath ceremony
Becoming a United States citizen is a significant achievement; a public ceremony will be held where those who are interested in citizenship will swear an oath of loyalty to the United States and to the constitution. This is an important step in your path to citizenship, and you should be proud of your accomplishments. Surround yourself with supportive family and friends as you take this next step on your own personal American history.
Is citizenship necessary for everyone?
It is possible to live and work in the United States without being an American citizen. As our country continues to evolve, you may consider your needs and desires for your future and that of your loved ones. Taking the path to citizenship is a choice that helps you and your family build a legacy and a future in a great country; do what is best for your loved ones, and create the life that you truly want!