|Naturalization ceremony of 50 new US citizens, 2011/Foreign Press Center|
Amongst all of the communication about immigration in our country today, it is important that those who desire to become citizens of the United States are informed of the citizenship process. Becoming a citizen is a lengthy process but also includes some great key benefits:
- Right to vote
- Run for public office
- Qualified for federal benefits and employment
- Enjoy oversees travel for longer than six months
- No fear of deportation
- Ability to sponsor other qualified family members for green card status
- Benefit from tax laws of the U.S.
- Be qualified for monetary awards including grants and scholarships
However, to enjoy these benefits one must qualify for citizenship. One may only qualify by meeting certain criteria that includes being 18 years of age at the time of application, be a lawful green card holder with permanent residence for five years, be physically present in the U.S., possess good moral character, have a basic knowledge of the English language, basic knowledge of U.S. history and government, and show a willingness to take the oath of allegiance.
Only if you qualify for citizenship will you be eligible to file the necessary paperwork. There are three main and very crucial steps to complete with accuracy and skill to become a citizen:
- You must file an N-400 form and pay the associated fees with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCSIS).
- You must take the immigration test and complete the interview. This step could take up to 180 days to 2 years, if or when you pass the test, before you can take the oath of citizenship.
- Once you have completed the aforementioned steps, you will receive a certificate of naturalization.
This process is very informative and one that is rewarding as well! There are more steps to learn all about citizenship so check out some of these helpful resources at your local library:
Citizenship: A Course of Study for Americans Wishing to Become Better Citizens or for Those Teaching Aliens in Preparation for Federal Citizenship Certificates by Harry D. Andrews
Citizenship: A Very Short Introduction by Richard Bellamy.
How to Obtain Citizenship: Plain and Simple Directions for the Alien or Foreigner Who Would Become a Citizen of the United States by Nathaniel C. Fowler (Nathaniel Clark),
How To Be a Good Citizen: A Question and Answer Book about Citizenship by Emily James
And visit the USA.gov's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services page.