There are three fundamental ways to ascertain US citizenship: citizenship by birth, citizenship by naturalisation, and citizenship by marriage. Find out more about the various routes to become a US citizen.
Call us today on +1 844 290 6312 to talk to our immigration lawyers and find out whether you are eligible for US citizenship.
Who can become a US citizen by naturalisation?
Individuals who meet the following requirements are eligible for US citizenship by naturalisation:
- You can demonstrate that you have a good command of the English language, which includes being able to speak, read, and write using English
- You can prove that you are an individual of good moral character
- You are eighteen years of age or older
- You can provide evidence showing that you have been living in the US as a permanent resident for at least five years prior to your citizenship application. If you are married to a US citizen, you have to have been living in the US for at least three years.
- You can prove that you spent at least thirty months in the US during these five years
- You must prove that you spent at least three months in the same state or USCIS district
- You have to pass the test assessing your knowledge regarding US culture and history
- You have to show commitment to following the fundamental values and democratic principles that the US is based on
- You must take an Oath of Allegiance to the US.
How to become a US citizen by naturalisation?
Naturalisation refers to the process in which a person born in a foreign country chooses to become a US citizen. Naturalisation is the most common way to get US citizenship. If you meet the eligibility criteria to apply for naturalisation, you can start preparing your application.
First, you need to complete and sign Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. In your application, you will also need to attach documents proving that you meet the eligibility criteria. If you fail to include all of them, the processing of your application can be delayed.
Once you have filed the form, you have to submit it and pay biometric services fees. You will also have to include two passport size photographs with your application. After submitting Form N-400 make sure to keep the receipt note as you will need to bring it to your naturalisation interview.
Then you have to go to the biometrics appointment to be fingerprinted and photographed. That is necessary for the required background checks. If you do not complete background checks, you will not be able to schedule an interview.
Once all these steps are complete, you can schedule the naturalization interview to complete the process. During the interview, you will take the English and civics tests. Typically, you will receive the decision regarding Form N-400 on the same day.
If your application is successful, you will have to attend a naturalisation ceremony during which you will take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. After the event, you will receive your Certificate of Naturalization.
How to become a US citizen by birth?
You can become a US citizen by birth in one of three ways:
- You were born in the US or certain territories that are subject to the jurisdiction of the US
- You were born to parents who have US citizenship
- One or both of your parents have gotten their US citizenship by naturalisation. That means that if your biological or adoptive parents initially had foreign citizenship but became US citizens before you turned 18, you might already have US citizenship yourself.
If, however, these requirements do not apply to you, you will have to go through the naturalisation process to receive your US citizenship.
Many people in the US have US citizenship without realizing it. That can happen when, for example:
- Someone was born in the US but their family moved abroad so they spent their whole lives in a different country
- Someone was born in a foreign country and did not know that their parents or grandparents were US citizens
- Someone does not know that if their parents became citizens by naturalisation their kids also receive US citizenship.
Who can apply for US citizenship by marriage?
Under US immigration law individuals who are married to US citizens can apply for US citizenship after three years of living in the US as permanent residents. To be eligible for this shorter qualifying period, however, they must have spent this time in a relationship with their US spouse.
If you are in the US on the IR1/CR1 Visa, you might be able to apply for US citizenship after three years of living in the US.
If you want to apply for US citizenship through marriage, you have to meet the following criteria:
- Be 18 years old or older
- Be a lawful permanent resident in the US
- Have been married to and living with your US spouse for at least three years prior to the naturalisation application
- Intend to remain married to the US citizen after receiving your US citizenship
- Have spent at least 18 months in the country out of the three years requirement
- Be able to prove that you have a good command and understanding of the English language
- Have good knowledge of US traditions, history, and culture
- Be of good moral character
- Show respect for the principles of the US Constitution.
What documents are needed to apply for US citizenship by marriage?
If you want to get US citizenship by marriage, you will have to prove that you have been married to and living with a US citizen for at least three years. To do so you will need to prepare a portfolio of evidence. Documents you need to prepare and bring to the interview include:
- Evidence of your spouse’s US citizenship. That can be, for example, their passport or their birth certificate. To be eligible for US citizenship by marriage your spouse has to have been a US citizen for at least three years at the time of you applying for the citizenship.
- Proof of a legal marriage. That can have the form of a marriage certificate or another official civil record.
- Proof that any marriages you might have previously had have been terminated. Acceptable documents include divorce decree and death certificate.
- Evidence showing that you and your US spouse have lived together in a marital union for at least three years at the time of you applying for US citizenship. The documents you can submit include leases, birth certificates of any children you have together, or insurance policies.
Not including some of these documents can lead to your citizenship application being delayed or even rejected. To avoid that, you should hire an immigration lawyer. They will help you make sure that your portfolio of evidence is complete.
How can Total Law help?
The process of applying for US citizenship can be stressful if you are doing it on your own. If you want to save effort and time, you should talk to our immigration lawyers. They will guide you through the whole process and offer expert advice during each step of the application.
Thanks to the help of our immigration lawyers, you can increase the chances of a positive outcome of your citizenship application. That is because our professional lawyers will check all the forms and documents you include, making sure there are no mistakes and all the required information is included.
Moreover, our lawyers will assess your eligibility for various routes to US citizenship and will advise you on which one is the best for you.
To find out more about how our immigration lawyers can help with your US citizenship application, get in touch today on +1 844 290 6312
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Frequently Asked Questions
Applying for US citizenship can be a complicated, time-consuming process. Unless you were born to parents who are US citizens and you automatically received your own citizenship, there are many requirements that you need to meet to be eligible for the citizenship.
Having US citizenship gives individuals all the rights that the US Constitution guarantees, including the right to petition for their family members to also come to the US. That is why, obtaining US citizenship is not easy.
As of 2021, the fee to apply for US citizenship is $725. That includes $640 for processing of the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization and $85 for biometric fees. These fees are non-refundable, which means that if your application is unsuccessful, you will not receive a refund.
To make sure that your application is submitted correctly, seek advice from our expert immigration lawyers.
The processing time of applications to become US citizens varies depending on the workload of USCIS. Nevertheless, on average, naturalisation applications are processed within 14.5 months from the applicant submitting it.
The quickest and easiest way to receive US citizenship is to be born to US parents. Individuals whose parents have US citizenship automatically receive one as well. Sadly, however, no one can control that. Most people who are born in a foreign country and want to become US citizenship will have to go through the naturalisation process.