“US Citizen” is a much desirable title around the world. Most of the people go through great lengths to get and stay there. Citizenship is the legitimate status of membership in the United States. The activities associated with citizenship typically include duties and privileges. The process is not difficult, but it does take time and dedication. The pathways to citizenship are specified in the Citizenship Clause of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment which reads:
“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.”
Benefits of Citizenship in the US:
- Privilege to never suffer deportation from the US;
- Being eligible for financial aid including college grants and loans;
- Can run for public office and obtain federal government jobs;
- The right to live overseas without endangering citizenship status in the United States;
- The right to pass the enjoyment of US citizenship to your children under 18 years old;
- The right to sponsor immediate relatives for their immigrant visa;
- The right to vote;
- Eligible for Social Security and Medicare benefits;
Before you can become a US citizen, you must meet certain legal requirements.
There are four ways to become a US citizen:
Automatic Citizenship at birth. This is the simplest method of acquiring US citizenship. If you were born inside the United States you may already be a US citizen.
- Through naturalization. It is a process in which an immigrant applies for citizenship and is accepted.
This process requires you to:
- be at least 18 years of age.
- be a permanent resident or a green card holder.
- have lived in the United States for at least the past 3 months.
- be willing to swear or take an oath of allegiance or loyalty to the United States, including the willingness to fight in the United States’ military or do other national service.
- be of good moral character.
- be able to speak, read and write simple English, and
- pass a test on US history and government (except for older or disabled applicants).
- have actually lived inside the United States for at least two (2) and a half years during the past 5 years (or one (1) and a half years of the past three (3) years if you have been married to a US citizen during the past three (3) years), and
- have a green card for at least five (5) years (or three (3) years if you have been married to a US citizen for the past three (3) years).
Through derivative citizenship. Some children become US citizens derivatively, depending on the date of the parent’s naturalization. If their parents became US citizens on or after February 27, 2001, their children will become US citizens, if:
- the children are under 18 years old.
- they are or become permanent residents, and
- they live with and are in the legal custody of the parent who became a US citizen.
However, if their parent’s naturalization happened before February 27, 2001, both parents must be naturalized US citizens before the child reaches the age of 18 if he or she is living with both parents. Otherwise, the child cannot derive the US citizenship from the US citizen parent. He or she has to file for naturalization after turning 18 if derivative citizenship is not available.
Through acquired citizenship. If you were born outside the United States to at least one US citizen parent, you may already be a US citizen.
If you possess all the qualifications under any of the foregoing methods of acquiring US citizenship, then you are now ready to file an application for US citizenship.
The citizenship process is meaningful for many immigrants, for it has been described as a ritual. Many new citizens are sworn in during Fourth (4th) of July ceremonies. Most citizenship ceremonies take place at offices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.