Saying, “I am an American citizen.” This is the phrase generations of people the world over have dreamed of saying. And why not, this is the land of opportunity, progress, and freedom; this is where the dreams you had in your sleep can become a reality. However, as an immigrant, the process to naturalization can be incredibly confusing and requires the skillful management of an immigration attorney. Below are the basics of the process. Please don’t hesitate to contact, SD Immigration Lawyers for a more detailed explanation.
The Basics of Naturalization
To become a United States citizen you must: be eligible for naturalization, apply for naturalization, attend an interview, and pass both a United States civics and English test.
Eligibility, as determined by both the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS), requires:
- At least eighteen years old
- A lawful permanent resident of the United States
- Resident and physically present in the United States for at least five years at the time of application
- Of good moral character
If you meet these requirements, then you can proceed to the application. An immigration attorney will help you with the forms. The application package includes the following:
- Complete Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
- Get two photographs of yourself that meet immigration service requirements (pose, size, lighting, etc.)
- Collect the necessary documents to prove that you fulfill the eligibility requirements
- Send your application, documents and fee ($320 application fee/$70 biometric fee for fingerprinting) to the appropriate USCIS service center
- Biometrics is the process of fingerprinting so that the USCIS can determine that your background is clean/appropriate for becoming a citizen of the United States.
- The process of biometrics, include: Receiving an appointment letter from the USCIS, going to the established fingerprint location, having fingerprints taken, mailing additional documents if requested. This process is designed to make sure immigration fraud does not take place.
After the application and biometrics are approved, then the interview and tests take place. These two steps may seem stressful, but a skilled immigration attorney can help you prepare for them. After these two steps, you will receive a decision on whether or not you are selected for naturalization. Then, all that is left is the glorious day of taking the Oath of Allegiance and becoming a United States citizen.
Becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident
Before applying for citizenship, you must first be a lawful permanent resident. And there are many avenues you can take to become an lawful permanent resident. Here are a few of the most common:
- A U.S. citizen/legal permanent resident family members can sponsor spouses, parents and unmarried children. Spouses and children of U.S. citizens are considered immediate relatives. Immediate relative are eligible for immediate immigration to the United States. Other family members of legal permanent residents and siblings of U.S. citizens must often wait several years before they can live and work in the United States.
- Visas include:
- IR (immediate relatives),
- F1 (unmarried sons and daughters under 21 years),
- F2A (spouse and minor children),
- F2B (unmarried sons and daughters older than 21 years),
- F3 (married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens),
- F4 (brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens)
- Visas include:
- Employers often look abroad for the talent needed to help their businesses succeed. Foreign-born people with extraordinary or exceptional ability in science, art, education, business, and athletics, and outstanding professors or researchers are highly desirable in the United States. Employers can sponsor their immigrant employees through a process known as “labor certification,” which provides employees the status necessary for naturalization eligibility.
- Visas include: EB1 (priority workers), EB2 (professionals holding advanced degrees), EB3 (skilled workers), EB4 (particularized special immigrants), EB5 (investors).
- Asylum and refugee seekers can use this token of freedom to build a new life in the United States and acquire the necessary residency and status requisites to become a United States citizen.
- If you have the appropriate funds, you can become a treaty investor. This is a foreign-born person who invests at least $1 million in a business in the U.S. This person can become a permanent resident without sponsorship. To qualify as a treaty investor, you must invest the $1 million in a new business that employs at least ten U.S. citizens.
- You may be eligible to become a legal permanent resident through the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery. Every year, the United States Department of State offers this lottery. People from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. enter the lottery for a chance to win a visa number. Typically, there are up to 55,000 visas available through the lottery.
Each aspect of the immigration process is one step towards living the American dream. To make sure each step is followed and approved, consult with a skilled immigration attorney. For more information, please call SD Immigration Lawyers.