How to apply for U.S Citizenship?
With U.S Citizenship, a citizen holds rights and specific responsibilities towards the country. A citizen is protected by the government and enjoys certain privileges due to their citizenship status upon meeting the citizenship requirements. The Constitution of the United States and its laws uphold the rights available to a citizen. These rights include freedom of expression, the right to vote, the right to work, and the right to receive financial assistance. The United States allows citizens to hold multiple Citizenship (dual Citizenship), but it is required from the part of the citizen to renounce allegiance to other nations.
How to become a U.S. Citizen?
U.S. Citizenship comes from two primary sources, namely;
1. Birthright Citizenship – Birthright citizenship is acquired by a person when he or she is born within the territorial limits of the country. By operation of law, this Citizenship is obtained automatically. This kind of Citizenship is acquired in two ways:
- As a result of the person being born inside the territory of the United States or
- As one or both of their parents are (or were) U.S. citizens, that is, under federal law, children of American citizens born abroad are also entitled to birthright citizenship (with certain exceptions).
2. Naturalization – It is the process by which a legal immigrant is granted Citizenship by way of applying for U.S. citizenship online or offline. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulates and controls the process. If you are a permanent resident in the U.S., the process to apply for Citizenship online is pretty straightforward. The naturalization process starts when a person submits the naturalization application (N-400) form.
What happens before the naturalization process?
- Immigration – Immigration is the process by which an individual moves internationally to a country where they do not have Citizenship with the intention to settle down and establish themselves as permanent residents upon fulfilling immigration documents requirements.
- Applying for a green card – Green Card is also a Permanent Resident Card. This card allows an immigrant to live and work in the United States, thus granting green card holders a legal permanent residence status.
- Five years mandatory waiting period – Once the green card is received, the person needs to be a permanent resident of the United States for five years before applying for United States Citizenship. If that person intends to apply for U.S. citizenship through marriage, they must be a permanent resident of the United States for three years.
- Applying for U.S. citizenship with a green card – Immigrants who want Citizenship need to submit and file an N-400 application to start the naturalization process, thus seeking to apply for U.S. citizenship online or offline. If a lawful permanent resident passes the requirements outlined in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), they may be given Citizenship through the naturalization procedure. This process of U.S. citizenship application becomes straightforward if you meet the eligibility criteria.
The difference between a Green card, Citizenship, and Visa
|Allows one to become a permanent resident of the U.S.||Allows one to become Citizen of the United States||Allows one to enter the United States for a predetermined time and purpose,|
|Allows the green card holder to stay and work in the U.S.||The citizen has the right to remain and work in the US||Only to temporary residence; permanent residence is still outside of the United States.|
|Permanent Status||Permanent Status||Temporary Status|
|Only enjoys some benefits from the government.||Enjoy financial and other benefits as a citizen from the government.||No benefits|
U.S. Citizenship Requirements
A person can apply for U.S. citizenship online and offline. But before applying for U.S. citizenship, there are a few things that one must keep in mind. First, the applicant must meet the eligibility criteria and have all the evidence or documentation requirements ready before starting the process. You must fulfill those requirements to be fit to apply for U.S. citizenship online and offline.
- Are you eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship?
Here are the eligibility criteria for becoming a U.S. citizen through the naturalization process:
- The applicant must possess a permanent resident card (a green card holder);
- The applicant should be of 18 years of age or above;
- The applicant should have lived in the U.S. for at least five years;
- The applicant must be able to read and write basic English;
- The applicant must be of good moral character; and
- The applicant must take the oath of allegiance.
Good moral character – Applying for Citizenship opens your whole immigration history to review, as USCIS will carefully do a background check on your profile. If a person is a law-abiding individual with no criminal background or charges, he can be referred to as a person with good moral character. A few crimes permanently bar a person from becoming a U.S. Citizen. These are aggravated, very serious, or violent crimes like murder. Other than this, if a person is involved in two or more crimes involving moral turpitude, he will also be prevented from becoming a citizen.
Crimes involving Moral Turpitude (CMT) – An evil act done recklessly violates morality and obligations to society at large or among individuals.
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- 7 Simple Steps to U.S. Citizenship Application Online
Are you still wondering whether you can apply for U.S. Citizenship online? Yes, you can! One can apply for U.S. citizenship online in a quick and hassle-free manner. Below are the constructive steps to be followed while applying for U.S. citizenship online.
Step 1 – Create a USCIS Account – Go to the USCIS website and create an account. Sign up with the email and receive a confirmation email sent to the registered email account. Confirm the mail address and proceed to sign in to your USCIS account with your email and password after the confirmation.
Step 2 – Once the signing-in process is completed, the application process can be initiated. Click on the “file a form online” and select “Application for Naturalization (N400)”. After that, select “Start Form.”
Step 3 – A “determine your eligibility” page will subsequently appear. A set of questions will appear that you will need to answer to confirm your eligibility. These questions include;
- Are either or both of your parents citizens of the United States?
- How old are you?
- Do you serve as a member of the U.S. armed forces?
- Do you possess a valid permanent residence?
- When did you obtain permanent legal residency?
- Have you left the U.S. in the past five years?
- Have you traveled outside the U.S. for more than six months in the past 2.5 years?
- Have you moved in the past three months?
After these questions are answered, it will show if the person has scaled the eligibility for citizenship criterion.
Step 4 – To proceed further with the application, click “go to application for naturalization N-400”. The next page that appears is the preliminary information page. Please read the page carefully as it confirms and verifies the fees and processing time involved in the application. After a thorough review, click next, and a page will appear showing the details of the online application process. It also provides information on how long the draft application is saved and privacy notice to confirm that the Department of Homeland Security protects the applicant’s data.
Step 5 – Next page is “personal information.” The applicant needs to fill in all the necessary personal information relating to them. This includes name, date of birth, contact information, country of Citizenship, U.S. Social security number, and so forth. In addition, the applicant needs to answer other personal questions related to family, past location, moral character, and others.
Step 6 – The applicant must provide evidence after answering the questions.
This includes – Permanent resident card, marriage certificates, Proof of the dissolution of any earlier marriages, and any other required evidence.
Step 7 – Review the whole application carefully and proceed to submit it.
With that, you are done with applying for U.S. citizenship online in quick and straightforward steps. There are other benefits attached when you apply for U.S. citizenship online, which includes step-by-step instruction for each part of the online application form, payment of filing fees securely, and post-application. Of course, you can always check the status of your case and other related updates. Often we encourage seeking applicants to apply for U.S. citizenship online for obvious reasons.
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How to apply for U.S. Citizenship offline?
Those who prefer to avoid embracing the digital mode to apply for U.S. Citizenship online can proceed to make an application offline. The N-400 application (paper) can be sent through the mail. In case of submission of the application offline, the USCIS will mail the applicant an Account Acceptance Notice. It has got guidelines that will help the candidate in creating an online account with USCIS and also on how to track and manage the application carefully.
Even though the applicant does not create an online account, the notification as to the status of the application will be sent to the candidate through the mail.
The forms for submission can be downloaded from the USCIS.
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- Submission of fees – Correct computation of fees is a must. The applicant must verify the fee amount and submit the application and biometric fees while submitting the N-400 form. Where the applicant did apply for U.S. citizenship online, the fee can also be paid online. In the case of offline payment, money orders, personal checks, cashier’s checks, and credit cards are all acceptable forms of payment. Form G-1450, which requests authorization for credit card transactions, must be provided if you use a credit card for payments.
Documents are to be assembled before mailing the application. Therefore, it is recommended that you follow the order stated below while assembling.
- Check or money order or Form G-1450. Write the form you are filing, your A-Number, or any other necessary identification on the check or money order if you are paying by check or money order.
- Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative – Form G-28
- Form to be filed
- Evidence – Proof of Green Card holder status or Permanent Resident Card.
- If the applicant lives outside the U.S., two passport-sized, similar-colored photos.
- Proof of marital status
- Other documents are mentioned in the instruction.
- The documents must be filed in copies and not originals.
- Biometrics Appointment – A notice will be sent to the applicant by the USCIS, which includes all the Biometric information. A biometric screening is done to identify the person and conduct a criminal background check. The applicant must carry a photograph and signature when leaving for the biometric screening.
- U.S. Citizenship Test and Interview – One of the most critical aspects of the naturalization process is the U.S. Citizenship Test and Interview. When an applicant files N-400, they are required to take this interview and the test.
- English Proficiency Test – U.S. Citizenship test is carried out to check if the applicant has a basic understanding of the English language and essential knowledge of English, American history, and government procedures (it is only in specific cases that the USCIS might grant waivers for the English Proficiency test). The test consists of two parts, namely: the English test and the Civics test.
The English test – Consists of three parts reading, writing, and speaking tests. This test is carried out to analyze and evaluate the English language skills of the applicant.
Civics Test – The Civics test gauges applicants’ knowledge of American history and governance. Most questions concern American politics, and the remaining deal with American history.
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- Interview – The USCIS representative will ask the questions the applicant must respond to during the interview. The questions are related to the applicant, the application, and the applicant’s background. The representatives may also ask questions relating to the U.S. Citizenship test. The applicant is allowed to be represented by an attorney during the interview.
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- Oath of allegiance – To become a citizen, the candidate must participate in a formal ceremony that includes reciting a sworn declaration. The USCIS sends the applicant a Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony, often known as “Form N-445,” which provides necessary information about the oath ceremony.
Benefits of U.S. Citizenship
- Right to vote – As a citizen, one can vote in Federal, State, or local elections. This right is provided by the U.S. Constitution, allowing citizens to raise their voices and participate in democracy.
- Travel Abroad with U.S. Passport – With Citizenship, one will get the right to hold U.S. Passport. The U.S. passport has numerous benefits. For example, one can visit more than 180 countries without a visa with a U.S. passport. Moreover, the holder can enter and exit the U.S. without any restrictions.
- Right to government grants and financial aid – With Citizenship, one can get grants, scholarships, and financial assistance from the government. By filling out the FAFSA, citizens may qualify to receive financial aid. FAFSA refers to Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
- Sponsor family members for a green card – U.S. citizens can sponsor more family members than permanent residents with shorter waiting periods.
- Right to travel outside the U.S. for a more extended period – If a person with a green card leaves the country for more than six months at a stretch, the Department of Homeland Security may consider them to have “abandoned” their permanent residence in the country. Therefore, Citizenship will enable a person to travel more extensively.
- Having Citizenship is less costly in the long run than having a green card. The total fee for Citizenship is less expensive than the renewal of a green card most times.
- Government employment options – Only citizens are eligible for some positions in government organizations.
- Citizenship for children – The children born to a U.S. Citizen will automatically get U.S. citizenship even when the child is born outside the U.S. It is to be noted that one must notify the American embassy or consulate about the birth.
The citizenship process is complex and requires patience while working on the application. Even though the processes involved are complicated, the benefits of Citizenship are innumerable. As stated above, a citizen holds certain rights and responsibilities. Therefore, the application process needs to be taken care of with precision and expertise. Also, the application needs to be submitted by providing accurate information and evidence. The applicants often need clarification when applying for U.S. Citizenship online and offline.
The U.S. Citizenship test and interview are the other areas of doubt for an applicant. The applicants might need a clearer idea of the manner and methods in which the interview and the exams are conducted.
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