Each year, hundreds of thousands of people migrate from foreign countries to the United States. Some people come for work, while others come for marriage or to flee a hostile environment at home. Still, many just come to the world’s melting pot to enjoy many of the gracious freedoms and inalienable rights our forefathers fought so hard to leave us. The idea that all men are created equal is an attractive selling point highlighting many opportunities Americans enjoy.
Becoming a US citizen means first establishing residency if you were born in another country. How someone establishes permanent residency in America directly impacts their path to citizenship. The requirements to become a US citizen depend on exactly how you became a permanent resident of this country. While the path to citizenship may vary a bit depending on individual circumstances, the general requirements to become a US citizen do not change. Here’s what you need to know.
General Requirements to Become a US Citizen
One of the most important requirements for becoming an American citizen is to be upstanding and morally righteous. Unfortunately, that is not enough. It’s also important to have a decent grasp of the English language. Foreigners should know how to speak and read English reasonably well before applying for citizenship. They should also know about the history of the country and be able to show that they will be an upstanding citizen who is a contributing member of society.
It is also important for foreigners to understand the government of the United States and how it operates. During the application process, they will be required to pass a 100-question test demonstrating a basic knowledge of American civics and government operations.
Other Specific Requirements
Some of the other specific requirements to become a US citizen include being 18 years or older and living in the United States as a permanent resident for at least five years at the time of your application. Foreigners should have also been granted authorization to live and work in America permanently by US citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In layman’s terms, you should have a green card for at least five years before applying for citizenship.
You must have been physically present in the United States for 30 continuous months or more without leaving for more than six months at a time. You should also live in the state or district where you file for citizenship for at least three months before submitting your application. Meeting these requirements can help ensure your application is processed in a timely fashion.
Citizenship for Spouses of US Citizens
Spouses of a United States citizen who is seeking citizenship in America must meet all the same basic requirements above with a couple of minor differences. They must have been physically present in America for at least 18 out of 36 months before applying, as opposed to the 30 out of 60 months listed above. They must also have been a permanent resident for three or more years, instead of 5, at the time of their application. However, they must have also lived in the same household as their American spouse for those three or more years before applying for US citizenship.
Get Specialized Help from an Immigration Attorney
If you want to learn more about the requirements to become a US citizen or think you’re ready to begin the process, speak to an experienced immigration attorney today. Each situation is different and surrounded by a unique set of circumstances. A great immigration attorney will listen to your story and present you with the best options to find a path to citizenship. Not only will they help ensure you meet the requirements to become a US citizen, but they can help speed up the lengthy process by preventing unnecessary delays. If you are considering becoming a US citizen, speak to an experienced immigration attorney today.