The path from Green Card to U.S. citizenship can be a long one since it involves many bureaus, administrators, and other officials, not to forget the different processes and procedures involved. Being a Green Card holder, one can live and work in the US permanently without losing the status.
Ways to Get a Green Card
- Through your family member – a U.S. citizen or a Green Card holder can sponsor you for permanent residence.
- Through the DV (Diversity Visa) lottery program that is held every year.
- Through employment – in this category, a qualified U.S. employer has to sponsor you.
- Through Refugee Status or Asylum.
- Through investment.
One has to meet stipulated requirements to qualify through any classification mentioned above. Though the main purpose of the above mentioned classifications is to get a Green Card, the processes and procedures differ. Being a permanent resident is the primary eligibility requirement while applying for citizenship, the highest immigration status in the U.S. Among the Green Card eligibles, only a few can run for citizenship. These few need to meet the following requirements:
The applicant has to be
- 18 years or older.
- should be a permanent resident for five years to be eligible to file for citizenship. If married to a U.S. citizen, then it is three years of permanent residency. The applicant has to be in marriage to a U.S. citizen and should be living with that U.S. citizen for the past three years of his/her permanent residency.
- residing in the U.S. for a continuous period before applying. The applicant should reside in the U.S. for a continuous period of five years after admission to the U.S. as a permanent resident. If married to a U.S. citizen, he/she must reside in the U.S. for a continuous period of three years following admission to the U.S. as a permanent resident.
A longer absence from the U.S. will break the continuity of the applicant’s residence in the U.S. and could hamper the applicant’s chances of becoming a citizen. Additionally, the applicant should be physically present in the U.S. for a certain number of months to qualify. Before applying for U.S. citizenship, the applicant should have resided in his/her current state (state where he/she is submitting the N 400 application) for at least three months.
Another key consideration is that the applicant should not have broken any U.S. immigration laws. Applicants should also prove at least 5 years of good moral character. Apart from these, applicants should be prepared to take an English language test and a civics test to prove that they can read, write and speak basic English and that they also have basic knowledge of U.S. history and government. Certain applicants can be exempted from the test considering any medically determinable physical or mental impairment. Applicants should be prepared to take an oath of allegiance to the United States to finally become citizens of the United States.