Citizenship Through Naturalization
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. – XIV Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
For generations of immigrants, American citizenship was the end of a long journey, from the nationality of their birth, to full membership in the political and social community of their adopted land. Today, citizenship continues to hold great significance for new Americans.
Citizenship gives Americans the right to vote, to sit on juries and to fully participate in American democracy. But citizenship also offers very tangible tax advantages as well as access to public benefits, which are unavailable to non-citizens. In addition, it should be emphasized that U.S. citizenship gives people the opportunity to sponsor certain foreign family members for legal permanent residence in the U.S.
Some individuals, even some individuals not born in the U.S., are citizens at birth. Other people may automatically become citizens by operation of law. Other individuals become citizens through a process known as Naturalization. The general requirements for administrative naturalization include:
- a period of continuous legal residence and physical presence in the United States;
- an ability to read, write, and speak English;
- an understanding of U.S. history and government;
- good moral character;
- attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution; and,
- favorable disposition toward the United States.
Please note that recent changes in the law now make it easier for U.S. military personnel to naturalize. In addition, for citizens of many countries, becoming a U.S. citizen does not result in the loss of their original citizenship.
In addition, in 2000, Congress passed the Child Citizenship Act (CCA), which allows any child under the age of 18 who is adopted by a U.S. citizen and immigrates to the United States to acquire immediate citizenship.
It is often said that citizenship application is a easy filing. However, it is also the application that involves many problematic issues: residence and good moral character are two of the most complex issues that arise in citizenship applications. Many individuals are not eligible for citizenship, such as those convicted of one or more crimes. It is no uncommon that an alien is put into deportation when he/she is filing an application for naturalization. If you have some concerns about your past records, you should consult an immigration attorney prior to filing for citizenship.