US citizenship means a lot to many and is a dream for many foreign nationals. US citizenship can be obtained by birth and there are two ways through which you can automatically become a US citizen. And if you cannot obtain US citizenship automatically, you also can go for naturalization, a legal process that allows foreign nationals to become US citizens. Following are the three different ways through which a person can become a US citizen.
Jus Soli or Citizenship by Birth
People born on US soil are US citizens. Even if you were born to foreign nationals who had entered the United States on temporary visas or to undocumented immigrants, you will automatically be granted US citizenship, if you were born within the borders of the United States. Unless you relinquish US citizenship, you may remain anywhere in the country as a US citizen. However, children born to foreign government’s officials may not be granted US citizenship, even if they are born in America.
Derivation or Acquisition of US Citizenship
You will automatically become a US citizen, if either one of your parents were US citizens at the time of your birth, even if you were born in a foreign country. Acquisition of US citizenship, is a method that grants US citizenship to the children of US citizens, who were born abroad. You may derive US citizenship from your parents, if your parents had become naturalized US citizens when you were not more than 18 years of age. However, you may derive US citizenship only if you hold a Green Card and live with your US citizen parent who obtained US citizenship through naturalization. If you acquire or derive US citizenship, you need not appear for the naturalization interview and you need not take the citizenship tests. You may just apply for and obtain a US citizenship certificate as a proof of citizenship, by filing Form N-600.
If you were not born in America and if you are ineligible for US citizenship through acquisition or derivation, you can go for Naturalization. This legal process will allow foreign nationals to become US citizens. However, you cannot become a naturalized US citizen easily and you will have to meet few prerequisites and file few forms.
You must be a lawful permanent resident and you must have been living in the United States for five years, to qualify for naturalization. Moreover, people below age 18 are ineligible to obtain US citizenship through naturalization. Similarly, foreign nationals with criminal backgrounds will not be allowed to become US citizens.
If you believe that you are eligible for US citizenship, you may file the USCIS Form N-400 and you will be required to appear for an interview, where you will take the naturalization tests. After completing the background security checks and after you pass the interview, you need to take the Oath of Allegiance to America, in a formal ceremony, where you will be granted a naturalization certificate.