For many people who come into the United States, the ultimate goal is to become a citizen. This isn’t a fast process, but it is one that is usually worth it. Understanding a bit about the process for becoming a citizen can help you as you work toward your goal.
The process of becoming a citizen when you aren’t born in this country is known as naturalization. This is completely voluntary, and it takes some work on your part. Once you meet the requirements and go through the process, you enjoy the same privileges and protections of every other citizen in the country.
You must be an adult who is at least 18 years old to embark upon this process. You need to have your permanent resident card for at least five years. This time is shortened to three years if you’re the spouse of someone who is already a citizen.
You must be of good moral character. Part of this requires that you have a clean criminal history. Because of the depth of the investigation, some people may need to think carefully about whether they will face any challenges proving this point. Working with someone who is familiar with the process can help you determine if you need to do anything special for this aspect of your application.
You’ll also undergo a personal interview, have a biometrics appointment and take a test. Once you’re approved for citizenship, you’ll take the Oath of Allegiance at a special ceremony. From that point on, you’ll be able to proudly proclaim that you’re an American citizen.