Naturalization & Citizenship

Naturalization is defined as the process by which eligible US permanent residents may apply for and be granted US citizenship.

The requirements for naturalization are as follows -

(a) The applicant must be a legal permanent resident for at least five years, and have continuously resided in the US for at least five years.  An exception applies to a legal permanent resident who has obtained residency through marriage to a US citizen spouse. In this case the time period is three years.

(b) Most applicants must have been physically present in the US for at least 30 months of the five years of required continuous residence. 

(c) An applicant must be of  good moral character, and be willing to swear allegiance to the US constitution. Criminal convictions will in many cases disqualify an applicant from applying for naturalization.

(d) The applicant must demonstrate an understanding of the English language,including the ability to read, write and speak in English and demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history and government of the US.  

There are many advantages of obtaining US citizenship.  For example, a citizen is entitled to vote, whereas a permanent resident doedsnot have this privilege.

A citizen is not deportable, except in the case where citizenship was obtained by fraud. In this case the Federal goverment will move to strip the citizen of US citizenship and deportation proceedings are instituted.

If a legal permanent resident is convicted of certain types of crimes, there is a risk of being removed from the US. Following the passage of the federal immigration legislation in 1996, even a conviction for less serious offences my subject a green card holder to removal.

Children of legal permanent residents can become citizens if their parents are naturalized before  they turn 18 years old.

Some federal and state benefits programs are only available  to US citizens. As of July 1, 2006, a new Medicaid requirement went into effect, requiring states to secure evidence of US citizenship from any individual applying for a seeking to renew eligibility for Medicaid coverage.  

Certain types of federal jobs with government agencies require US citizenship, especially in law enforcement energy, national security and defense sectors.

With regard to immigration for family members,US citizens receive priority treatment when petitioning for permanent residence for family members.. Green card holders  cannot sponsor parents or siblings,and the length of time it takes to bring in children or spouses to the US is much longer than in the case of US citizen sponsorship.

A citizen is also guaranteed US status.   Permanent resident green card holders are at risk of losing their residency if they spend long continuous periods outside the US.without obtaining permission from the USCIS beforehand.. Many permanent residents have had their green cards confiscated by immigration

Inspectors at ports of entry because they inadvertently abandoned their legal permanent residence, and now wanted to return to the US.  A citizen can live outside the US for any length of time and not having to worry about losing legal residence in the US.

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