Applying for American Citizenship – the Essential Qualifications
Who Can Apply for American Citizenship?
Obtaining a permanent residency card or Green Card is an important step in the way of gaining American citizenship. The Green Card enables an immigrant to live and work in US in an unrestricted manner.
To acquire a permanent residency card, the following steps should be followed:
- The immigrant petition must be filed by an employer or relative on your behalf and then approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- After an Immigrant Visa has been assigned by the USCIS, an immigrant visa number must be obtained by you.
- Application to adjust to permanent residence or Green Card must be done after the visa number becomes accessible. Those applicants who receive their immigrant visa number while outside America must visit the local American Consulate to complete their processing.
Diversity Lottery is another way through which you can obtain a Green Card or permanent residency card. Annually, the State Department’s National Visa Center organizes this lottery-style selection process. In this process, suitable applicants are chosen from the lottery group and then invited to apply for Green Card.
The demand for Green Card is so huge that even after the approval of the immigrant petition, the immigrant number might not be immediately received by the applicants.
Obtaining American citizenship will ensure that all the rights and privileges enjoyed by an American citizen will be enjoyed by you. The ways through which an individual can attain American citizenship is either through law or through naturalized parents or through birth to parents who are American citizens.
The Prerequisites for Obtaining American Citizenship
As per the law, the eligibility criteria for the application of American citizenship are as follows:
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- You should have resided in America as a permanent and lawful resident for a minimum of 5 years and the absences, if any, should not be a total of more than one year.
- You should have a period of physical presence and continuous residence in the United States.
- You should be of good moral character.
- Should be able to speak, write, read and understand simple English language.
- Should be capable of demonstrating the basic understanding and knowledge of history and government of America.
- Must be able to show that you are attached to the American Constitution’s principles.
- You must take the oath of allegiance.
In case of demonstrating basic knowledge of English, there are some exceptions for certain people like:
* Those who have been residing in the United States as lawful permanent residents for a minimum period of 20 years and are 50 years old.
* Persons who have been permanent residents for a minimum period of 15 years and are 55 years of age.
* People who have been residing in the United States as a permanent residents for periods totally 20 years and are 65 years of age.
* Those who are suffering from some kind of permanent mental and physical impairments and are incapable of fulfilling these requirements.
(Depending on which category the person belongs to, he/she can either seek exemption from the citizenship test or can skip the English test and take the civics test in a language of their choice.)
An American citizen’s spouse who has been residing as a lawful permanent resident in America for more than three years, can apply for citizenship, provided all the requirements have been satisfied.
When to Apply for Naturalization
An individual can apply for naturalization if he or she is at least 18 years of age, residing in the US for at least 5 years as a permanent resident or for at least 3 years if the applicant is living with their spouse who is a US citizen. Those serving the U.S. military service for more than one year are eligible to apply for the American citizenship either while serving in the military or within six months of discharge.
In certain cases, the spouses of American citizens or individuals serving in the military are also able to apply for naturalization.
The other requirement is that the applicant should have been a resident in his or her present state for a minimum period of three months. Also, the applicant must not be involved into any sort of criminal activity. When the applicant has fulfilled all the requirements, he or she can file the Form N-400 to apply for American citizenship.