Many people who immigrate to the United States may want to become American citizens.
U.S. citizens have certain rights and protections that even lawful permanent residents do not enjoy. Among these are the right to vote in federal elections and the ability to get a United States passport.
Once a person is an American citizen, they have the ultimate protection against deportation. The United States is their permanent home.
Becoming an American citizen is not an easy process. It requires several steps. First of all, a person has to be eligible to apply for citizenship in the first place.
Eligibility for citizenship will take some time
Many people who want to pursue citizenship will do so by one of two routes.
Those who have been lawful permanent residents for five years may apply for citizenship. A person has to show that during the time prior to filing for citizenship, they were residents of the United States.
They must also demonstrate that they physically were in the country for 30 months of those five years, that is, about 50% of the time.
Those applying for citizenship as the spouse of an American citizen have shorter waiting periods. A tradeoff for these shorter time periods is that the person must be and remain married to a citizen.
They must be lawful permanent residents and actually have residence in the United States for three years. Of these three years, half of the time, or 18 months, must be spent in the United States.
The application process for citizenship can be complicated
Once they meet these requirements, people can file the proper paperwork for citizenship.
Aside from being accurate and complete, to be accepted, the application will have to show that the person asking for citizenship has good moral character and has had good moral character in the years prior to applying for citizenship.
At a minimum, authorities will look an applicant’s criminal history.
The applicant also must show some basic knowledge of English as well as the history and the government of the United States. This will involve taking a test.
The applicant must also demonstrate loyalty to the United States and its Constitution, a process that ultimately ends in their swearing allegiance to the United States and receiving citizenship.
Those who live in Greensboro, Winston-Salem or the surrounding communities and who are interested in American citizenship should make sure they understand the process and the steps they need to take.