An individual may become a United States citizen by birth or may select to become a United States Citizen by naturalization.
US Citizens have following privileges-
- Right to vote in the United States.
- Right to a United States passport
- Right to work and reside in the US
- Right to reside and travel out of US for unlimited time without the losing the status.
- Right to many benefits including social or economic.
Many individuals born out of the US are US citizens by birth if one or both of their parents are US citizens. If both the father and the mother are US citizens, the baby will be a US citizen provided the parents have lived in the United States.
If a parent is a US citizen, and the baby was born after 14th November 1986, then the baby will be US Citizen provided the US Citizen parent lived in the United States for five years, out of which two years were after attaining the age of fourteen. There are separate rules in case a child is born before 14 November 1986.
An individual may apply for US Citizenship by Naturalization once the individual has been a US Permanent Resident for five years. If an individual is married to the US Citizen during the eligibility period, then the time is reduced to three years.
Moreover, the individual needs to be physically present in the US for half of the eligibility period. And no one can be absent for more than six months. The individual applying must have the ability to speak and write English and have knowledge of US history and civics. There are certain exceptions available for individuals above 65 years of age. The applicant should also be of good moral character.
The process for applying for citizenship includes filing an N-400 with the required fee. Then the individual will get a notification of an interview to be held at the nearby USCIS office. The civic and language test is taken there.
The interview will be arranged with the six months of filing of N-400 in most of the cases. After all this is done, there is an oath ceremony where the individual is given the certification of naturalization. It can be used to apply for a passport.