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How Can I Become a United States Citizen?

Individuals who want to obtain US citizenship must know the principles of the US Constitution.
Map of the United States.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 September 2014
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Citizenship in the United States is a privilege that can be obtained in essentially two ways. The most common way to become a citizen is to be born within a state of the nation, or to be the offspring of one or more biological parents who were US citizens at the time. There is also a process known as naturalization that can help anyone who wishes to become a United States citizen to achieve that goal.

There are people born in many countries around the world who have sought the privilege of living and working in the United States as a full-fledged US citizen. To that end, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is charged with overseeing the process that allows individuals to apply for and eventually achieve full citizenship in the nation. The USCIS sets specific standards that must be met in order to qualify for the privilege of being a citizen.

People who want to become a US citizen must establish a period of continuous residence in the country. This can be accomplished by obtaining a sponsorship from a person who is currently a citizen, getting a job, and establishing a place of residence with the aid of a work visa. Generally, it is necessary to establish this residence within a USCIS district and make a formal application in order for the process to be properly recorded and monitored.

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Anyone seeking citizenship must be able to speak, read, and write in English. This does not mean the person must be completely fluent with the language, but the level of comprehension must be sufficient to be able to understand US laws, read public signs, and be able to read and assimilate information in public documents.

The individual seeking to become a United States citizen must have a working knowledge of the history and government structure of the United States. This will include knowledge and acceptance of the principles of the US Constitution and other founding documents. It is also expected that any citizenship applicant will demonstrate a favorable disposition toward the country in general.

The USCIS conducts interviews on a daily basis, during the evening hours of the week and posted hours on weekends. Resources to help applicants comply with the regulations are made available, and many municipalities and other local organizations also provide support in the form of English and history courses that are designed to help people to meet the qualifications. When the applicant is prepared, he or she may take an exam and undergo the final round of interviews. If the applicant is found to meet all the qualifications outlined by Immigration Services, he or she may be formally granted the status of United States citizen in a ceremony conducted under the auspices of the USCIS.

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Discuss this Article

anon326612
Post 10

My husband is applying for citizenship and wants to know if he has to get a certificate of disposition from the country he came from for an arrest.

anon325554
Post 9

I am 16 years old and moved to the US six years ago. What do I do to become a US citizen?

SarahSon
Post 8
My husband works with a man who is from Mexico. He has eight children and all of them except the oldest daughter were born in the United States. Their oldest daughter is now in her 20s, and I don't know if she has become a citizen of the United States yet or not.

I don't understand all the regulations and policies that are required for someone to go through, but think that is something that should have been done a long time ago.

Of course there are fees involved, which I don't feel should be cheap, but I think it would be a lot cheaper than the alternatives.

andee
Post 7
I know for some people, taking the United States citizen test is extremely challenging for them because they don't have a good grasp of the English language. This is intimidating enough for many of them that they put this off as long as possible.

If someone is new to this country, and they are trying to learn a new language along with all the other changes, I can understand why this seems so daunting. On the other hand, if they have lived here for several years, I would think it wouldn't be that hard.

John57
Post 6

My daughter married a man from Ireland and they lived in Ireland for several years where she was able to get her Irish citizenship, and yet keep her United States citizenship at the same time.

The United States does not allow dual citizenship like this. They now live in the United States and he asked us to be his sponsor when he moved here and started working on getting a permanent status.

Becoming a citizen of the United States is not a quick process. Even under the best of circumstances it can takes months to years for the entire process to be completed.

sunshined
Post 5

@anon135613 -- I find that frustrating as well. If I am in another country, I am expected to communicate in the language of that country. I am not given the option of using English, so feel it should be the same way for visitors to the United States as well.

This is an issue that is widely debated, so don't imagine it will change anytime soon. I know the United States immigration office has a lot of issues to deal with, and this one isn't at the top of their list.

anon188038
Post 4

I am an Australian and wish to move to NYC. I'm nearly 18 and want to join the gay adult industry. Can I do this and still become a citizen of the United States?

anon135613
Post 3

If one of the rules for becoming a citizen is to be able to speak, read and understand the english language, why is it that whenever I call a business, I am asked "for english, press 1." I don't want to press 1 or any other number.

If you call a business from inside the borders of the United States, I shouldn't be asked anything of the sort. If you call a business, you should be able to speak enough english to make a phone call. If not, learn english or don't use the phone.

If I go to any other country the same would apply.

anon72375
Post 2

i received a permanent residency when i was 18 years. to get my citizenship, do i have to go through the same process as taking the exams etc.?

anon70996
Post 1

how long does it take for a married child who is over 21 years of age to wait for her USC mother for her petition for U.S? please help. thanks

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