Becoming a U.S. Citizen

american citizenship

Since the past decades, people from different parts of the world had hoped to become citizens of the United States of America.  And why not? It is not only known as the “Land of the Free”, but also a “Land of Opportunities”. US being one of the developed countries in the world entices many nationals of different countries to decide to immigrate to the US and apply for a US citizenship.

Now, how can a national of another country be a citizen of another? Is that even possible? Although in most cases, a citizen of a country is also its national, one should know that these two words can’t be used interchangeably, for they have different meanings. Nationality refers to the origin of a person and his membership to a certain nation thus usually defining his or her ethnicity. Citizenship, on the other hand, is a political status that is granted by the government  and allows a person to enjoy political rights and requires him or her to perform certain duties and responsibilities. And so, this is why a national of a certain country can become a citizen of another.

According to the website of USCIS, there are 2 types of US citizenship : citizen at birth and citizen after birth.  Those who were born within the territories of the United States of America naturally become US citizens, regardless of the nationalities and citizenship of their parents. It is because US citizenship is governed by the principle of “jus soli”. In simple definition, this Latin term means that the nationality or citizenship of a person depends on his or her place of birth.  Also, those who have a US citizen parent or parents at the time of their birth can also be US citizens at birth after following certain procedures.

On the other hand, one way for people who wish to become US citizens after birth is to apply for naturalization.

As far as the US government is concerned, a foreigner can become a US citizen by meeting certain requirements and by going through a series of certain procedure. Among the basic requirements are: the applicant must be not younger than 18 years old and has been continuously residing permanently within the territories of US and a green card holder for at least a period of 5 years from the time the application was submitted.  In addition, the applicant must prove that he or she is of good moral character and knows how to communicate in English.  Furthermore, the applicant must have sufficient knowledge about the history and government of the United States of America.

To apply for naturalization, an applicant must use the Form N-400, the necessary form required for application for naturalization. Once completed, this form must be sent to USCIS. A specific amount must be paid through checks or money order issued by any bank in the United States and should be made payable to the Department of Homeland Security. Once an applicant has undergone and passed all the procedures, the last step will be the oath taking.

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