Living and working in the United States is a dream for many people around the world. Opportunities for education, business, success and other goals abound in the U.S. That’s why so many people come here and seek permanent residency.
If, after having your green card for some time, you wish to more fully participate in the American democracy, you may wish to apply to become a naturalized citizen. Before making that decision, it is good to first fully understand the process.
Rights and responsibilities of citizenship
With American citizenship comes some inalienable rights and some serious responsibilities. The rights of citizenship include:
- Voting in federal elections
- Priority in bringing family into the U.S.
- Obtaining citizenship for your children
- Traveling with a U.S. passport
- Eligibility for government jobs
- Running for elected office
In becoming a citizen, though, you take on certain responsibilities, including disavowing allegiance to any other country, swearing allegiance to the U.S., supporting the U.S. Constitution, serving on juries when called and serving in the military if required.
The naturalization process
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services lists the steps you must take to become a naturalized citizen.
- Be at least 18 years old and fill out the naturalization paperwork (form N-400)
- You must already be a lawful permanent resident
- You must have already been in the U.S. for five years (or three years if you’re the spouse of a citizen)
- Demonstrate that you have continuously resided in the U.S. permanently over that time and have been present
- Prove that you’ve been moral and law-abiding
- Take a test to prove your attachment to American principles, civics, American history, and your ability to read, write and speak basic English
- Pledge an oath of allegiance to the U.S.
- Once the previous steps are complete, you will receive a certificate of naturalization
American citizenship is a prize envied by many around the globe. If you would like to learn more about the naturalization process and to see if you’re eligible for citizenship, consider speaking with an immigration attorney. He or she can help you gather the necessary documents and start you on your journey.