American flag, US passport and Certificate of Naturalization on a desk

Citizenship of the U.S is quite coveted around the world. Being a citizen offers so much protection and benefits that thousands of people apply for it every year. Do you want to learn about how you can become a citizen of the U.S? Read on.

Birth, Blood and Naturalization

Citizenship in the U.S is based on these three fundamentals. You can become a citizen by being born anywhere in the U.S. It would not matter that neither of your parents is a citizen of the country.

You can also become a citizen if you were born to a citizen of the U.S. It won’t matter where you were born. All that matters is if at least one of your parents is a citizen.

If you don’t qualify under any of the first two, you can apply for citizenship through the process of naturalization. Naturalization is a process that allows a national of a foreign country become a citizen of the U.S usually because s/he has lived in the U.S. for a long period.

Marriage to a U.S citizen

Yes. You can also become a citizen through marriage to a U.S citizen. This mode of citizenship is not totally unique though. It is more like a type of naturalization.

Before you can become a citizen through marriage though, you need to fulfil the following conditions:

  • You must be a permanent resident “green card” holder for at least 3 years. (for a military spouse, it’s 1 year)
  • Reside with the same spouse during those 3 years.
  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Reside in the same state in which the immigration office is located for at least 3 months prior.
  • Be a current US resident for at least 3 years prior and physically present for at least 18 months of those 3 years.
  • Read, write and speak English and have knowledge of United history and government.
  • Be a person of good moral character, and not have any disqualifying criminal convictions.

Requirements for citizenship

There are other requirements that you need to fulfil to qualify as a citizen of the U.S through the major modes of citizenship.

Citizenship by naturalization

This mode of obtaining citizenship is also called citizenship by self-petition. In order to qualify through this mode, you need to:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Be a permanent resident (“green card” holder) for at least five years, and live in the same state at the time you are applying for citizenship for 3 months.
  • Be physically present in the US for at least 30 months out of the five (5) years at the time of application.
  • Read, write and speak English and have knowledge of United history and government.
  • Be a person of good moral character, and not have any disqualifying criminal convictions.

Citizenship by birth

Any child born in the U.S is a citizen of the U.S by virtue of the birth. This would still be the same if the child was born in any territory of the U.S.

There is no need to file any applications here. The process is entirely automatic. The parents must be citizens of the U.S. though. It would not matter that the citizenship was acquired by naturalization or marriage.

Citizenship by blood

Any child born in a foreign country would also qualify as a citizen of the U.S. The parents of the child must be citizens of the U.S. though. Again, it would not matter if the citizenship was by naturalization or marriage.

What if you acquired U.S. citizenship after your child was born? Your child still qualifies as a citizen of the U.S. The child would qualify from the moment you become a citizen of the U.S. However,

  • the child must be below the age of 18 at the time you acquired the citizenship.
  • You must have legal and physical custody of the child

Benefits of citizenship

Once you become a citizen of the U.S, you become entitled to so many rights that are not available to non-citizens. These rights include

  • The right to vote
  • The right to hold public office
  • The privilege of having a U.S. passport with freedom to travel and receive government assistance anywhere you are in the world.
  • The privilege of extending citizenship to your children.

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