American citizenship is the lawful status of political membership in America. The path to citizenship in America is said to be a long one. To become an American citizen, you must first qualify for lawful permanent resident status in America.
To become a lawful permanent resident in America, you must obtain a Green Card. This is the permanent resident card which allows the holder to stay and work in the United States permanently. To become a permanent resident in the United States, you must be admissible into the United States.
To get an immigrant visa to immigrate permanently to the United States, you must be sponsored by your relative who is a Green Card holder in America or an American citizen. You may immigrate to the United States based on an employment offer in the United States, if the employer sponsors you. The sponsoring relative or the employer must file an immigrant petition for you, which must be approved by the USCIS for further processing. Once the immigrant visa petition is approved, you must wait until an immigrant visa number becomes available in your particular category.
If you are in the United States at the time of applying for an immigrant visa, you have an option to apply to adjust your status to permanent resident status, once a visa number becomes available. If you are abroad and you had applied for an immigrant visa, you may complete the processing of your petition at a local US consulate when an immigrant visa number becomes available.
If you do not have a relative in the United States to sponsor you and if you do not have an employment offer in America, you may apply for an immigrant visa through the Diversity Visa lottery program which offers 50,000 immigrant visas to people across the globe, with some restrictions.
Once you immigrate to the United States and get a Green Card, you will be entitled to various benefits, but those benefits are limited. Getting lawful permanent resident status in America does not mean that you are an American citizen. You must apply for American citizenship through the process called naturalization, if you wish to become a US citizen. You will not be able to apply for citizenship in America through naturalization, as soon as you become a lawful permanent resident. You must reside in the United States for 5 years and more continuously and satisfy other requirements for US citizenship.
To qualify for naturalization, you must be of age 18 or more. US citizenship is not granted to people who have been involved in criminal activities. Hence good moral character is an important requirement while applying for American citizenship. You must be attached to the principles of the constitution of the United States and must be aware about the history and the laws of America. Basic understanding of the English language is required to apply for naturalization.
If you wish to become an American citizen, you must be ready to take the Oath of Allegiance to America and you must swear that you will support the American Constitution and bear arms when required by the American government. On satisfying all the requirements, you may apply for citizenship in America by filing form N-400, Application for Naturalization, with the USCIS.