Becoming a U.S. citizen is life-changing for immigrants in the United States.
It is a process that involves meeting several requirements established
by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The process
of granting U.S. citizenship to a lawful permanent resident is naturalization.
According to the USCIS, there are different ways to obtain citizenship,
and the best course of action may vary depending on an individual's situation.
Some pathways include:
Naturalization: This is the most common way immigrants become U.S. citizens. Eligible
individuals must be at least 18 years old, have lived in the U.S. as a
lawful permanent resident for at least five years, demonstrate good moral
character, and pass English and civics tests, among other requirements.
Marriage to a U.S. Citizen: A lawful permanent resident married to a U.S. citizen might be eligible
for naturalization after three years of being a permanent resident rather
Service in the U.S. Military: Non-citizens serving in the U.S. military may be eligible for expedited
naturalization. In some cases, service during periods of hostility can
lead to immediate eligibility.
Children of U.S. Citizens: In certain circumstances, children born outside the U.S. to American parents,
or those who became citizens after birth, can acquire or derive U.S. citizenship
through their parents.
For each pathway, there may be additional requirements or exceptions to
consider. Furthermore, certain family members of military personnel may
have different routes to citizenship.
Becoming a U.S. citizen involves more than rights; it also comes with responsibilities.
Citizens are expected to support and defend the Constitution, participate
in the democratic process, and respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions
of others, among other duties.