There are numerous benefits that come with becoming a U.S. citizen. You earn the right to certain privileges such as the right to vote, travel and live overseas without the fear of losing U.S. status and avoid the risk of deportation in case you get in trouble with the law.
U.S. permanent residents can acquire citizenship through naturalization. However, this does not happen immediately after you obtain the green card. You need to meet certain requirements to become a citizen of the United States.
So how does citizenship via naturalization happen?
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the government agency that reviews and determines your eligibility for naturalization. Thus, to become a citizen, you need to meet the following requirements:
- You must be a U.S. permanent resident for at least five years
- You must continually live in the U.S. or its territories for the last 30 months out of your 5-year permanent residency
- You must reside in the state where you are applying for naturalization for at least three months
The process of naturalization
Besides meeting the residency requirements, the USCIS will require you to meet additional conditions to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. These include:
Age requirements – you have to be at least 18 at the time of applying for naturalization. If you have minor children, they will become automatically naturalized when the parents become citizens.
Language requirements – you will have to take and pass English as well as U.S. history and government tests.
Character requirements – you must be a person of sound morals. This means that you cannot have certain criminal convictions.
Acquiring U.S. citizenship comes with a range of benefits. However, it is never a straightforward process. Learning more about U.S. citizenship and naturalization laws can help you take appropriate steps while preparing for naturalization.