By Dona Maria Avanzado March 9th, 2011
There are a few different ways to obtain US citizenship. Anyone who becomes a US citizen gets all the constitutional rights and privileges that are a part of the country’s citizenship. They have the right to vote and choose their government; moreover they are also eligible to get Social Security and Medicare facilities when they retire.
US citizens can get a passport which will allow them to travel around the world without too much of difficulty. A US citizen enjoys the right to sponsor the legal US residency of his family allowing them to immigrate from their native country.
The first step in applying for US citizenship is to submit a US citizenship application. You need to understand that US citizenship can be obtained either at birth or after birth for which certain eligibility requirements are applicable. Here are few situations:
- You are a US citizen if you were born in the US.
- If you are born outside the US but your parents are legal citizens of USA, then you could be a US citizen. You will have to claim citizenship through your parents if certain eligibility requirements are met.
- If you are born outside of United States to non-American parents, then you could immigrate to the US as a permanent resident and get US citizenship through a procedure known as naturalization.
What to Remember When You Apply for Citizenship
The immigration laws have changed over the years and anybody applying for citizenship must fulfill all the necessities for becoming US citizen and provide the needed proof. The candidate needs to go through following requirements before submitting a US citizenship application.
Anyone claiming citizenship through their parents will have to file for a Certificate of Citizenship after they ensure that they meet all the eligibility requirements.
If you want to become a citizen based on your own status you can do so through the naturalization process. You will have to submit the US citizenship application. To eligible for naturalization you must be 18 years old and should have been a permanent resident for more than 5 years. You also need to fulfill all other qualification requirements like continuous residence, physical presence, state stay and good moral character.
If you are the spouse of a US citizen and have been living with your citizen spouse for 3 years and also have had your green card for those 3 years, then you can go ahead and apply for citizenship through naturalization process after those 3 years.
You will be required to take the US citizenship test and interview where your knowledge of English and civics (US history and government) will be checked. You should start preparing for this test as soon as you decide to file the US citizenship application.
If you want to apply through the naturalization process, then it is compulsory for you to maintain continuous residence in the US. This means that you should not have left the US for a long period of time. Any stay out of the US for more than six months can be construed as an interruption of continuous residence. However, your stay abroad for six months to one year may be excused if you have a genuine reason for it.
Once your continuous residence has been interrupted, the years accumulated as permanent resident towards meeting the citizenship requirement will be discounted. You will have to once again fulfill the permanent residence requirement before you can become eligible to apply for naturalization.
The evidence required to prove your eligibility for naturalization needs to be provided with your application; otherwise your application may be delayed and can even get rejected. It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide all the evidence required.
The basic supporting documents are as follows:
- A photocopy of your Permanent Resident Card (green card)
- Birth certificate
- A photocopy of a document on name change (if applicable)
- Marriage certificate (if application is based on marriage)
- Two identical, color, passport-size photographs.
You may later be requested to submit the original documents for reference. These documents will be returned to you. It is a must that you make a photocopy of your application, all the supporting documents, and also the check/money order that you send in your application packet. This is for your personal reference.
The US citizenship application can be made error-free if you take the time to understand the requirements and collect the required supporting documents well in advance.