Citizens are the basis of any state, regardless of its form of government. That is why the issue of citizenship is very relevant at all stages of state development. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the right to citizenship is one of the fundamental rights since by acquiring the status of a citizen a person receives a certain set of rights and obligations.
About the Importance of a Green Card
Obtaining a green card is the first important step to becoming an American. But although it gives the right to permanent residence in the USA and work in this country, it does not guarantee citizenship. Nevertheless, if you have a green card, you can live in the country for 5 years (or 3 years for those married to a US citizen) and then apply for naturalization.
Who Can Apply for US Citizenship?
The United States has several essential requirements for applicants. Those not meeting these requirements should not submit an application; it is unlikely to be approved. Please consider the following list:
- Age of majority. Foreigners over 21 years of age have the right to obtain American citizenship. Minor children automatically become citizens based on the naturalization of their parents;
- USA residence. The applicant must reside in America under a green card permit for at least 5 years. But, as noted above, the naturalization period is reduced to 3 years for spouses of American citizens, subject to the continuation of the legal marriage;
- Compliance with stay periods. The total period of continuous stay in America must be at least 30 months or 18 months for those with a green card use period reduced to 3 years due to marriage to a US citizen. If the applicant leaves the country for 365 days, the condition of continuous residence is violated;
- Knowledge of the state language. The applicant must confirm good knowledge of English by passing the appropriate exams;
- Knowledge of history. The applicant must demonstrate good knowledge of American history. There is also a particular exam for this;
- Compliance with community principles. An applicant for US citizenship must strictly adhere to the laws, social norms, and lifestyle of American citizens.
How Long Will It Take to Get a US Passport?
The United States strives to accept only those immigrants who wish to integrate into society and become full citizens. Therefore, the naturalization involves many checks and requirements to ensure the candidate meets these criteria.
USCIS requires the completion and submission of a citizenship application, a personal interview, and testing. It also checks federal databases. So, obtaining a US passport may take 6-24 months.
Steps to Follow
If you meet the above requirements and want to obtain a US passport no matter how long you have to wait, follow this procedure:
- Fill out an application. Submitting Form N-400 to USCIS is the first step. You can fill it out at your place of residence in the US or online. In this form, you must provide personal data, information about living and working in America, education, and marital status, as well as answer questions about your knowledge of English;
- Submit your biometrics. Taking fingerprints is mandatory. It allows USCIS to check you for any serious offenses. The procedure is not difficult. Just visit one of the Immigration Service centers that work with applications from foreign citizens. Applicants under 75 years of age must pay a fee;
- Pass interviews and exams. You also need to undergo an interview with USCIS. Be prepared to be asked questions that you previously answered in the application. Prepare responsibly for exams;
- Take the oath. This is the last step you have to go through before receiving a US passport. The procedure may take place 2-3 months after the interview and passing the exams. Be sure that you will be informed of the exact date and time in advance. Once you take the oath, you will be considered a full-fledged U.S. citizen.
Can I Track the Application Processing Time?
If you submitted your application a long time ago and are concerned about whether it is currently in processing, feel free to check its status on the USCIS website. Just log into your account and make the appropriate request.
How to Speed Up the Application Review Process?
In general, there is no reliable way to expedite the citizenship application processing. In any case, it will take at least 6 months. Here are some useful tips to help you avoid delaying this process:
- Fill out Form N-400 carefully, answer questions truthfully, and attach all required documents;
- Follow the instructions and rules indicated on the USCIS online service;
- Submit the completed Form on time, and don't put it off till the last moment;
- Take time to study US history and improve your English before your interview with an immigration officer;
- If you have exceptional circumstances, such as illness or an urgent need to obtain citizenship, you can ask USCIS to expedite the process;
- Remember to monitor your application status and respond to any requests that may be sent to you by email.
How Much Money Do You Need to Apply for US Citizenship?
The total cost you will have to pay when applying for citizenship is $725. $640 is the cost of application processing, and $85 is the cost of biometric services.
Reasons for US Citizenship Cessation
Speaking about the institution of citizenship, it is worth mentioning the reasons for citizenship termination in the USA. Thus, a person ceases to be a US citizen in cases such as citizenship renunciation, loss, deprivation, etc.
Renunciation means termination of citizenship at the person's own request and with the consent of the relevant authorities. Such an application may be rejected in cases established by law. Another reason is the deprivation of citizenship. A person is deprived of citizenship in case of illegal behavior. This sanction usually applies to naturalized citizens who have recently received citizenship.
As for the loss of citizenship, a person automatically loses citizenship when committing illegal acts. For example, a person does not maintain contact with the state for a long time and lives in another country.