How to Become a US Citizen

OpinionFront Staff Nov 1, 2018
Immigration and acquiring a citizenship is not so easy. There are certain rules and regulations governing the acceptance of a person as a US citizen.
Gaining citizenship of a country like the US is a matter of pride and honor for many people. It is the most powerful country in the world, both economically and militarily. And, you're not merely the one with a permanent residential status, but also a citizen, is something many people crave for. Let us see how you can become the citizen of this country.

Eligibility

Like in many countries, a person can become a US citizen in two ways ― by birth and by naturalization. The first one is quite simple. If you are born in the US territory, you are its citizen and also of the state in which you are born. The process of naturalization is a bit hard. Naturalization is for those who have entered the US after immigration.
The problem with understanding this process is that, it is different for different people. The rules and requirements for people who try to become citizens differ, based on whether they are married to a US citizen, or if they are staying as lawful permanent residents (LPR).
When you obtain the LPR status, the government keeps you on probation. This means you are residing in the US, but do not enjoy some constitutional rights which citizens enjoy. You may also be facing the risk of deportation, as you are not a citizen.
So the government first keeps you on a probationary period, before you actually become eligible for gaining the citizenship. This eligibility criteria is different for ordinary LPRs and LPRs that are married to US citizens.
If you are an ordinary LPR, you need to be physically present in the US for at least 30 months out of the past 5 years. If you are an LPR married to a US citizen, it becomes easier as, you need to have a physical presence in the US territory for up to 18 months, out of the last 3 years. An absence for over 6 months means to start your tenure all over again.
During this tenure, the government monitors your behavior to see if citizenship should be granted to you or not. There are some broad parameters on which it judges your behavior. If you commit any of the following crimes (known as permanent bars to naturalization), you will never be granted the citizenship.
These crimes include murder, rape, sexual abuse of a child, treason, violent assault, and trafficking of drugs, firearms, and people. So, if your behavior stays aboveboard throughout your LPR, you will become eligible for citizenship.

The Process

Count the days in your final year (3/5th). When you are 90 days from the completion of your tenure, you are eligible to apply for citizenship. Here is the process in brief.

» You will have to fill out the form N-400, which is an application form. You have to fill it carefully, without any mistakes, and submit it to your local processing office.
» You will then get a notification from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services department, acknowledging the receipt of your application. They will scrutinize your form and tell you the date of your citizenship test.

» This exam tests your knowledge of the American laws and history. This test can make or break your chances, so you need to study well.
» If you pass the test, you will receive a notification saying that, you have passed, and an interview date will be given.

» In case you fail, you can give the test again in 90 days.
» The interview stage is to scrutinize your documents, and to ensure that you have not supplied any fake information. Take all the original documents at the time of interview.

» Once you pass the interview, you will receive the date of your oath, which is the final step of getting the green card.