US Citizenship Eligibility

Be a U.S. Citizen: Learn How Here!

Becoming a US citizen is a big deal for people who want to be fully part of America. It comes with many benefits and shows a commitment to the country. But figuring out if you’re eligible to become a citizen can be tricky. It depends on where you were born, your family, and your immigration status. Sometimes, getting advice from a citizenship attorney, someone who knows all about the laws and rules, is helpful.

In this guide, we’ll examine what it takes to become a US citizen according to the people who decide, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Whether you were born in the US, have American parents, or are thinking about becoming a citizen, we’ll explain the rules in simple terms.

We’ll explore how you can become a citizen and explain what you need to do. Understanding these rules will help you take the right steps towards becoming a US citizen and enjoying all the good things that come with it.

Short Summary

  • Citizenship creates a special connection and entails shared values and freedoms protected by the US Constitution.
  • Immigrants can pursue citizenship through different paths, including naturalization.
  • Naturalization involves meeting specific requirements set by Congress, such as holding a green card for a certain period and residing in the US.
  • Eligibility for naturalization depends on factors such as the duration of one’s green card, time spent in the US, and military service.
  • The naturalization process involves completing Form N-400, submitting documents, attending biometrics appointments and interviews, and taking the Oath of Allegiance.
  • Upon approval, applicants participate in an oath ceremony and receive their Certificate of Naturalization.

Knowing how to become a U.S. citizen is crucial, regardless of whether you were born in the U.S., have American parents, or are considering U.S. citizenship.

What Is U.S. Citizenship?

Being a U.S. citizen creates a special connection. It means sharing common values and believing in the freedoms protected by the U.S. Constitution.

For immigrants, becoming a U.S. citizen is a significant decision. Depending on your circumstances, there might be different paths to citizenship.

Naturalization is the legal process for lawful permanent residents to become U.S. citizens. It involves meeting specific requirements set by Congress.

Conversely, some people automatically acquire citizenship at birth or before turning 18 if they have U.S. citizen parents.

Who Is Eligible To Apply For U.S. Citizenship Through Naturalization?

The ability to become a U.S. citizen through naturalization depends on several things:

The below provides a quick overview of who can typically apply for citizenship and when followed by a more detailed explanation.

Who Can Apply For U.S. Citizenship And When?

For most green card holders, the wait to apply for citizenship is at least five years, with a physical presence requirement of at least two and a half years out of those five.

Being married to a U.S. citizen for at least three years can shorten the wait to three, but you’ll still need to meet physical presence requirements.  Your spouse must also be a U.S. citizen for at least three years.

Special rules apply to military service:

  • Spouses of U.S. military members who died in service can become citizens immediately, regardless of green card time or physical presence.
  • Military service during wartime eliminates most green card and physical presence requirements.
  • Serving in the military for at least one year during peacetime allows you to apply while on active duty or shortly after separation, regardless of green card or physical presence time.
  • Shorter peacetime service (less than one year) requires meeting the standard five-year green card wait with a two-and-a-half-year physical presence requirement. Honorable service during that time potentially counts towards the wait. The same applies if you served for one year during peacetime but are applying after separating from the military. 

What Are The Tests I’ll Need To Pass To Become A Naturalized U.S. Citizen?

Along with your application, you’ll also be tested on your English skills and knowledge of U.S. history and government during your USCIS interview. These exams are designed to see if you can:

  • Understand, speak, and write basic English (exceptions apply for some long-term residents and people with disabilities).
  • Demonstrate knowledge of U.S. history and government (exceptions apply for seniors and people with disabilities, as mentioned before).

If you don’t pass one or both exams on the first try, you’ll usually get a second chance to retake them at another interview within 2-3 months.

How To Apply For Naturalization?

Before you begin the naturalization process, it’s essential to check your current citizenship status.  

  • See if you might already be a U.S. citizen by birth or if you acquired citizenship automatically through your parents.  
  • Once you’ve confirmed your status, you can proceed to reviewing your eligibility for naturalization.
  • Prepare Form N-400: This application is available online. You’ll need to create an account and gather documents proving your eligibility.
  • Submit your application and fees: You can also do this online. USCIS will send you a receipt and allow you to track your case status.
  • Biometrics appointment (if required): You may need fingerprints and photos taken.
  • Interview: USCIS will schedule an interview to assess your eligibility. Bring your appointment notice.
  • Decision on your application: USCIS will mail you a decision notice. It can be approved, continued (if you need more evidence), or denied.
  • Oath of Allegiance ceremony: If approved, you may be able to participate in a ceremony on the same day as your interview. Otherwise, you’ll receive a separate notice for the ceremony.
  • Complete a short questionnaire (Form N-445).
  • Attend the ceremony: Report to USCIS, surrender your green card, take the Oath of Allegiance, receive your Certificate of Naturalization (review it for accuracy), and celebrate your citizenship!

Call Our St. Charles, MO Citizenship Attorney Now!

Figuring out if you can become a US citizen is a big deal. Understanding the rules is essential, whether you’re born here, have American parents, or are thinking about becoming a citizen. If you’re unsure what to do or need some help, it’s a good idea to talk to someone who knows about this.

That’s where Gateway Immigration Law Firm in St. Charles, Missouri, comes in. We have a team of friendly folks who know all about citizenship and can help you figure out what to do next. Whether it’s figuring out if you qualify or helping you with the paperwork, our citizenship attorney has your back.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to Gateway Immigration Law Firm. Our St. Charles, MO law firm will make sure you’re on the right track to becoming a US citizen and enjoying all the good things that come with it.

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