You can either become a U.S. citizen by birth by being physically present in the U.S. or one of its territories, or you can become a citizen after birth by going through the naturalization process of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Benefits of United States citizenship
- The right to vote in all elections
- Easier to bring family members to the United States
- Your children also get citizenship
- Virtually visa free travel with a U.S. passport
- Ability to avail of lower-cost in-state university tuition benefits
- Ability to apply for federal jobs
- Ability to run for public offices
Responsibilities of United States citizens
Of course, it’s not a one way street; citizenship also brings obligations.When you take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, you must swear to defend and support the Constitution, support and defend U.S., promise your allegiance to the U.S. and willingness to serve in its armed forces if necessary. Male citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 are required to register for the Selective Service. And of course, you are required to pay your taxes.
The naturalization process
If an individual is not born in the United States or born to American parents, he or she must go through the naturalization process to become a U.S. citizen. Naturalization is the name given to the entire citizenship process in which the applicant must meet all requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Individuals may be eligible for the naturalization process if they meet one of the following conditions:
- Hashad a green card for at least five years;
- Has been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and is filing as a U.S. citizen’s spouse; or,
- Has participated in U.S. armed services
To obtain citizenship, an applicant must file Form N-400 Application for Naturalization with USCIS. In this application, the individual must prove that they are of good moral character by disclosing information about their criminal history.Youmust also document that you have met the mandated residency requirements, and pay the application fees. You must also provide biometrics including fingerprinting, photographing and a background check, unless you are below 14 or over 79 years old. It generally takes from 4 to 6 months for the N-400 application to be processed. After this is completed, you will be invited to take an interview and pass a short test on English and U.S. history. Once your application receives its approval, you will be invited to a swear allegiance in a ceremony and receive your Naturalization Certificate.