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US Citizenship Requirements and How to Meet Them

There are many requirements in order to become a US citizen. Learning these requirements and meeting them in full will greatly increase your chances of being accepted for US citizenship:

1) Age requirements. Applicants for citizenship must be the age of majority (18 years of age). Minors who are under this age must apply as minors, often with an adult sponsor or as part of a family.

2) Residency requirements. In order to apply for US citizenship, you must have your green card, which proves that you are a permanent resident of the US. There are many ways to secure a green card. An employer in the US can help you obtain a green card. To do this, you employer must sponsor your application and must submit Form I-140 and any required documentation and fees. If you are married to a US citizen, you can apply for your green card based on this circumstance. A child, parent, or sibling may also be able to sponsor someone’s application for a green card. A relative can sponsor a relative’s green card by completing Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative). If you do not have an employer or relative in the US to sponsor you but you come from a qualifying country, you can also apply for the green card lottery. This system grants 50,000 green cards to qualified applicants each year. You can apply for the lottery through the State Department.

3) Physical residency. Even if you have a green card, you will need have lived physically in the US for at least 5 years as a legal permanent resident. During this period, you must not have lived abroad for more than one year. If you have a green card, you can work legally in the US, so moving to the United States, finding a job or a school and waiting for the resident requirement is quite simple. If you have been away for a few months (more than six months) you will need to prove that you have not abandoned your physical residency. To prove that you have maintained residency, it is a good idea to keep records showing that you are physically present in the US – bank statements, leases, receipts, and school and work records can all be helpful in this regard.

4) Character requirements. You must prove that you have sound moral character in order to qualify for US citizenship. Generally, if you have a green card this is often considered enough evidence. However, you can also gather character witnesses, a note from the police showing you have no criminal record, and records of volunteer or charitable work.

5) Language requirements. You must be able to show that you are fluent in written and spoken English. Taking English classes and passing standardized English language testing is often adequate to prove fluency.

6) Knowledge requirements. You must prove knowledge of the US contribution, history, and government. There is a Naturalization exam which tests your abilities in this regard. You can practice for the test with books and by reading about US history, government, and the constitution. You will also need to learn the Oath of Allegiance, as you will need to recite this before becoming a US citizen.

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