Immigrants living in the United States may have visas with expiration dates. Sometimes, they may qualify to become permanent residents. Some permanent residents eventually decide they would like to become United States citizens.
Naturalization is the legal process through which a foreign national becomes a citizen of the United States of America. The naturalization process can take quite some time to complete but comes with numerous benefits, including the right to vote and run for public office. Not everyone who wants to naturalize meets the standards for doing so. The following are the most important requirements for naturalization in the United States.
A lengthy residency
Typically, someone must have spent years in the United States to qualify for naturalization. In fact, they usually need to maintain their primary residence in the United States instead of going back and forth between their country of origin and the United States in the years leading up to their application. Both a long-term stay in the United States and multiple years of continual residency are usually necessary for someone to naturalize.
A thorough background check
Background checks are crucial during every stage of the immigration process, including naturalization. Generally speaking, anyone seeking to become a United States citizen must demonstrate good moral character. Avoiding major criminal charges after entering the country is one way to demonstrate good moral character. Someone seeking citizenship can anticipate a very careful review of their criminal record as part of that process.
Passing the naturalization tests
Someone who potentially meets the necessary standards for citizenship still has to complete an interview and testing process. They must complete a test in Civics that looks at their knowledge of the government in the United States and the country’s history. They also have to establish proficiency by passing an English test that looks at their ability to read, write, speak and understand spoken English. The tests are among the last requirements imposed in the naturalization process.
Some immigrants qualify for exemptions or special support due to disabling medical conditions. Even those who fail the test initially typically have the opportunity to retake it one time before they must begin the naturalization process over again.
Learning about the standards for naturalization, and seeking legal guidance accordingly, can help people determine if it is an option for their current situation.