For many people, becoming an American citizen is a desirable and valuable goal. It signifies the full integration of an individual into the social, political and economic life of the United States. Generation after generation, immigrants have become U.S. citizens, creating the national identity known as "American."
Once established here, and after an acceptable period of time, you can then apply to become a full-fledged citizen of the United States. We will outline the benefits of this action and what to expect once involved in the process.
Once a person has been a permanent resident in the United States for a number of years, he or she may be eligible to become a U.S. citizen. This process is called naturalization. To qualify for naturalization, an immigrant must meet a number of requirements:
- Be at least 18 years of age when you apply for naturalization.
- Be a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. (A lawful permanent resident is a person that has been granted legal permanent residency to live and work in the United States.)
- Have been a lawful permanent resident for five years immediately before you file your application (this is reduced to three, if you are married to a U.S. citizen).
- Not have been outside of the U.S. for a continuous period of one year or more within the last five years (three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen or currently on active duty with the U.S. military).
- Have been physically present (actually in the U.S.) for 30 months immediately before filing (18 months if you are married to a U.S. citizen).
- Must have lived in the jurisdiction of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) office where you will be interviewed for citizenship for at least three months.
- Be able to read, write, speak, and understand the English language (unless exempted).
- Be able to demonstrate a basic knowledge of American history and government (civics), unless this requirement is waived.
- Be a person of good moral character (a person cannot become a citizen if convicted of serious crimes, or has committed other acts that would not be in keeping with being a good citizen like not supporting your minor children).
- Have an "attachment to the principles of the Constitution and the good order of the United States."
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