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Common Ways To Become A US Citizen. Photo KnowInsiders
Contents

You can become a US citizen either at birth or later in your life. First you must be qualified for certain conditions.

What are the US citizenship requirements?

To submit your application for U.S. citizenship, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:

-Be at least 18 years old

-Have lived in the U.S. as a Green Card holder for a certain number of years

-Have established your residency in the same state or district where you intend to apply

-Be able to prove your “good moral character”

-Demonstrate adequate knowledge of U.S. history, customs and the English language

-Register your willingness to perform civil services if required (only for male applicants)

-Swear obedience to the Constitution of the United States.

How to get US Citizenship at Birth

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Photo PBS

Under United States law, any person born within the United States (including the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands) is automatically granted U.S. citizenship. There is an exemption for children of parents who are foreign diplomats or members of a sovereign Native American tribe.

The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

As most Americans are born on U.S. soil, this is clearly the post common of the ways to become a U.S. citizen. The next three paths address ways foreign nationals can obtain citizenship.

To acquire citizen status at the time of your birth, you must meet one of the following conditions:

-You were born in the U.S. or territories subject to the jurisdiction of the United States

-If you were born abroad to at least one parent who was already an American citizen at the time of your birth

I-f you do not meet any of these requirements for U.S. citizenship, you can seek this status later.

How to become a US citizen through acquisition

In some circumstances, a child automatically “acquires” citizenship even though that child was born outside the United States. At least one parent needs to be a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth and several other conditions must be met. When this child marries and has children, those children may also acquire U.S. citizenship at birth. The ways a child can become a U.S. citizen through acquisition generally include:

Both parents were U.S. citizens

Requires that both parents were U.S. citizens at the time of the child’s birth and the parents were married at the time of birth, and at least one parent lived in the U.S., or its territories, or both, prior to the child’s birth.

One parent was a U.S. citizen

Requires that one parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth; and the child was born on or after November 14, 1986; and the parents were married at the time of birth; and the U.S. citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. or its territories for a period of at least five years at some time in his or her life prior to the birth, of which at least two years were after his or her 14th birthday.

One parent was a U.S. citizen

Requires that one parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth; and the birth date is before November 14, 1986, but after October 10, 1952; and the child’s parents were married at the time of the birth; and the U.S. citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. or its territories for a period of at least ten years at some time in his or her life prior to the child’s birth, at least five of which were after his or her 14th birthday.

To obtain official documentation from the U.S. government that a person acquired U.S. citizenship through one of the above methods, the applicant must file Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship. The laws have changed several times over the years. Therefore, you’ll need to research the law that was in effect on the date of the child’s birth (and the parents’ birth, if grandparents were U.S. citizens). Or check your eligibility for free by starting the application on CitizenPath. It can get complicated. If you are unsure or have a complicated situation, seek the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney that can guide you through this process.

How to become a US citizen through derivation

Derivative citizenship means that a child can derive citizenship from their parent who has become a naturalized U.S. citizen. Essentially, if a parent is born in another country and then gains U.S. citizenship, any children they have can potentially become citizens, too. This also applies to naturalized parents who adopt children who are not U.S. citizens.

How Derivative Citizenship Works

If a child is under 18, has a green card when their parent becomes a U.S. citizen, and lives with their parent, then the child will gain citizenship. In order for an adopted child to become a citizen, they need to be adopted before their 18th birthday and have a green card when their parent naturalizes. Additionally, the adoptive parent must have custody of their child, and the adopted child must not be married.

Getting Proof of Citizenship

If you need proof of derivative citizenship, as long as your child meets the requirements to receive it, you can apply for proof of citizenship by filing USCIS Form N-600. This is the Application for Certificate of Citizenship. You will also need to provide documents showing that the parent is a U.S. citizen and the child’s immigration status, identity, and relationship to the parent. You can prove this with a birth certificate or an adoption decree.

Naturalization

Naturalization refers to the process in which a person not born in the United States voluntarily becomes a U.S. citizen. For foreign-born persons, naturalization is the most common way to become a U.S. citizen. There are several requirements that must be fulfilled before an individual can apply for citizenship. Generally, applicants must be 18 years old and fall into one of the following three basic eligibility categories:

What happens at the U.S. Naturalization interview?

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Photo CitizenPath

Your U.S. naturalization interview is the stage when the USCIS officer will ask questions about your application and your intent to settle in the U.S.

To adequately prepare for this examination, you should study for your citizenship trial since both tests will take place on the same day.

At the time of your naturalization interview, you must bring the following documents:

→ Your Green Card

→ Your ID

→ Your travel records, including your passports (as well as your expired ones)

→ Original copies of documents assessing your current and previous marital status

→ IDs of your dependents (if applicable)

→ Your federal income tax returns for the past five years

→ Proof of your permanent residence in the U.S.

→ Proof of your registration to the Military and Civil Service

→ Court, police or prison records (if applicable)

→ Documents that can prove your “good moral character”

What is the naturalization ceremony?

The naturalization ceremony is the final step in the citizenship process in the U.S.

If your naturalization application is approved, you will attend a ceremony to:

Take the Oath of Allegiance

Return your permanent residence card (green card)

Receive your Certificate of Naturalization

What happens during the ceremony?

Naturalization ceremonies may be different at each field office. Generally, a group of applicants will attend a naturalization ceremony at the same time.

Generally, during the oath ceremony, you will take the Oath of Allegiance. You will have to stand, raise your right hand, and recite the Oath of Allegiance. You will receive your naturalization certificate at the end of the ceremony.

Oath of Allegiance

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Photo SlideServe

What is the Oath of Allegiance?

The Oath of Allegiance is a formal promise you have to take before you can become a U.S. citizen.

When and where is the oath ceremony?

You will receive an appointment notice with the date, time, and location of your naturalization oath ceremony. The oath ceremony will usually happen at the same place you had your naturalization interview.

Sometimes, the oath ceremony will happen on the same day as your naturalization interview. If you do not get an appointment on the same day, you will receive a notice in the mail with the date, time, and location of your scheduled ceremony.

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