Naturalization is the process a foreign citizen goes through to become a citizen of the United States. Certain requirements must be fulfilled in order to gain U.S. citizenship.
• It is important to note that immigration is a highly individualized process, and approvals are granted on a case-by-case basis. You may have a special case that does not follow the general naturalization requirements, but may be considered with special exceptions or waivers. A good immigration attorney can be a great resource if you have a special case. Also, highly skilled workers, investors and entrepreneurs can immigrate under special circumstances. Foreign residents also can come here legally if they have refugee or asylum status or in some cases are sponsored by humanitarian programs.
• Before becoming a citizen, applicants must be legal immigrants. Individuals in the country illegally are not eligible for permanent resident or citizenship status. According to the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services - illegal immigrants wishing to gain citizenship must first go back to their home country and apply for legal permanent residency and file for naturalization.
• Age You must be 18 years of age. Applicants less than 18 years old must follow procedures outlined for Naturalized Citizen’s children.
• First apply for permanent resident status-
• Individuals can attain permanent resident status after living here continuously for five years, or by living here while being married to a U.S. citizen for three years or by having served in the U.S. Armed Forces for one year. You must be a permanent resident (obtained your green card) to be approved for citizenship.
• Individuals at least 18 years of age can become legal permanent residents by applying for a green card, which grants them authorization to permanently live and work in the U.S. After obtaining a green card on their way to citizenship, immigrants are then referred to as “lawful permanent residents.”
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