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How to Become a U.S. Citizen

How to Become a U.S. Citizen

It’s possible to become an American citizen (a process called naturalization), but it’s a long, often difficult road — and one that takes lots of paperwork and at least 5 years of your life.

It seems obvious, but you become an American citizen either at birth, as a child, or as an adult. Being born in the country is probably one of the biggest shortcuts towards citizenship for both the parents and the children.

The birth rules are probably the biggest and easiest way to become a US citizen. But outside of being ‘born’ in the U.S. to become a citizen, there are a number of different ways to become an American.

Here, you will learn how to become a permanent citizen of the United States of America.

A Green Card

This is a document that determines if you are allowed to remain in a country on a permanent basis. It is called a “Permanent Resident Card,“ or an “Alien Registration Card, or a “Green Card.”

Unless you are able to derive/acquire citizenship from your parents, or unless you are willing to cheat (methods listed below), you will have to apply for a green card. A green card allows you to become a permanent or semi-permanent US citizen. If you have a green card, you may apply to become a full US citizen via the process of naturalization.

The Shortcuts To Becoming A US Citizen

These methods are risky, but are commonly used by unscrupulous people to become US citizens quickly.

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][+] Enter the country with no papers and claim you cannot remember where you came from. It is illegal to deport you if they cannot prove where you came from.

[+] Enter the country and become pregnant. Have the baby on US soil and the child becomes a citizen if registered. You then apply to become a citizen, and they will find it difficult to deport you and make your child a US orphan.

[+] Bluff your way through with fake documents or illegal working until you have been in the country long enough to take a citizenship test.

[+] Do the same as above, but wait for an amnesty day where you may declare that you don’t have papers without being deported.

[+] Marry somebody and live with that person for over a year and then divorce him or her and take half his or her stuff while remaining a US citizen.

[+] Claim asylum. Make a claim that you will be harmed or unfairly treated/imprisoned if you return to your home country.

[+] Invest at least $500,000 into the US economy and create at least ten jobs in the process.

[+] Inform on terrorists or go to court and testify against criminals. In many cases, the informant is protected by the US and ergo is given citizenship by default.

The US is a soft touch when it comes to people immigrating, which is why the Hispanic population has grown sixfold since the 1970s to over 55 million. That is almost as many people as there are in the UK.

If you wish to become a US citizen after being an illegal alien for an extended period of time, then have a number of US citizens sponsor you. For example, there are large Mexican groups that come together to sponsor other Mexican illegal immigrants to become citizens. There are also universities in Mexico that teach people how to become US citizens.

Another sneaky method of becoming a citizen is to pass Muslim Sharia law amendments to the US constitution, such as the amendments proposed in Alabama. Such measures may allow men to grant citizenship to their wives and daughters by claiming they are owned by the man, or by claiming they would be unable to survive without him (which is true in countries that have Sharia law).

Born To Become A US Citizen

If you are born in the United States, or if you are born in certain US territories, or you are born subject to the jurisdiction of the US government, then you may become a citizen automatically so long as your birth is registered and the location of your birth is registered correctly.

[+] A US Embassy is not part of the US and so does not count either because it is only American diplomatically.

[+] A US military base that is not on US soil does not count either with a few minor exceptions for special circumstances.

[+] You cannot adopt a baby abroad and then claim it is your own because they will check with a DNA test.

If one or both of your parents are US citizens, then you may also become a citizen at birth, even if you are not born on US soil, a US jurisdiction or territory. If you are born in another country and one of your parents is from the US and the other isn’t, an application may still be made on your behalf.

However, it is the custody-holding parent that decides your fate. If you do have one parent that is from the US and you are not registered as a US citizen at birth, you may find it easier to become a US citizen when you grow older.

[+] Your parent/s must be a US citizen at the time of your birth, especially if you are born abroad.

[+] Your parents are responsible for registering you as a US citizen.

[+] You cannot adopt abroad and assume your child will become a US citizen, but it is a common practice for members of some states.

[+] A non-genetic gestational mother may legally become the parent, which means the child takes on her nationality.

Applying To Become A US Citizen

After birth, you must apply for naturalization if you want to become a US citizen. The only other way to become a citizen is to have it “Derived” from your parents or “Acquired” from your parents. For example, you may discover that your father is actually a US citizen, which may give you the right to become a US citizen too.

There is a naturalization test that is taken in English, and it is mostly based on Civics such as U.S. history and government. The process of naturalization is very difficult, especially if you are a not willing to go the unscrupulous route. Unless you fit a very slim criteria, there is only a small chance that you will be allowed to become a US citizen.

[+] If you are a member of the US military, or the child of a person working for the US military, you may take a special naturalization test.

[+] You may derive citizenship from your father if you prove he is your father, if you are under 18, and if he becomes financially responsible for you.

[+] If you suddenly become a US citizen, it doesn’t mean that your family does too. The children of new US citizens may not derive citizenship from their parent/s.

9 Steps to Naturalization

The most commonly talked about part of the naturalization process is the N-400 form because this is usually the place where most applications end. However, the biggest reason why so many N-400 forms fail is because the applicant was never eligible in the first place and the application should never have been put through. Thousands upon thousands of forms are rejected every year, and sometimes the reasons for the rejections are a little lazy. Here are the nine naturalization steps for people that are permanent residents of North America.

1 – Determine if you are already a U.S. citizen.

That is honestly the first step, and the header is a direct quote from the USCIS (US Citizenship And Immigration Services) website. It brings to mind a bunch of dumb Yankees sat in their studio apartments wondering if they are Guatemalan when a shampoo advert pops up claiming it has guava in it.

What the USCIS is trying to say is that some people may be US citizens already because of their parents. For example, if you do not know who your dad is, it may be worth asking your mother to cast her mind back because you may be able to derive or acquire your citizenship from your father.

You may have become eligible to become a citizen another way, or may have inherited your US citizenship, which means that the naturalization process may either be avoided or expedited.

2 – Are You Eligible To Become A U.S. Citizen?

Don’t forget that you have to be a permanent citizen of the US in order to be eligible to become a US citizen. You have to be over the age of 18yrs old, and you must have been living in the country more than three years in order to stand a chance of being accepted. You stand a better chance if you have lived in the US for more than five years. They have a worksheet that will help you decide if you are eligible to become a US citizen. The worksheet is very easy to understand and follow, and it is loaded with reasons why you may not be able to become a US citizen.

3 – Complete Your Form N-400 Application

You will have to download the form, read the instructions and fill it out. You will also need two passport photos along with a number of documents to prove that you are eligible to become a citizen by Naturalization. You can download all you need to become a US citizen here, and you will also need a document checklist, which you can also download here.

4 – Submit Your Form N-400 Application

Send it and they will send you a receipt to let you know they have received it. Processing times seem to vary from state to state, and depending on the time of year. You can check the current status of your application on, or you may call their National Customer Service Center. The number is 1-800-375-5283, or if you are hearing impaired, you may call 1-800-767-1833.

5 – Take Your Biometrics Scan

While your application is being processed, you may receive an appointment to have your fingerprints taken and an eye scan taken. You will have to arrive where they say and when they say. The scans are used to identify you, and they run the scans across their databases to see if your fingerprints or face have turned up in any criminal cases.

6 – Have Your Naturalization Interview

Once the preliminary process is over with, you are one step closer to becoming a US citizen. You must now take your interview to show you know enough about US civics. Ironically, many of the people that were born in the US are unaware of many of the answers to the questions posed in Naturalization interviews. You will need to bring your appointment notice with you and you will have to answer most of the questions correctly.

7 – Receive Your Decision From The USCIS

You will be given a written notice of your decision where it will say you are granted, continued or denied your citizenship. If your reply says “Granted,” then you may take the next step towards becoming a US citizen.

If it says “Continued,” then you have not been denied, but they are going to need more evidence and to do more checks before a final decision is rendered. You may also receive a “Continued” result if your spoken and written English was below par, or if you failed the Naturalization interview by getting too many answers incorrect. If you are “Denied,” then it means they do not want you to become a citizen and may have to remain a permanent resident for another five years before they will consider you again.

8 – Pledge And Take Your Oath of Allegiance.

There is a naturalization ceremony that you have to attend and take part in. Usually, when they mail your “Granted” decision, they also tell you when the ceremony will take place.

9 – Attend And Take The Oath Of Allegiance

You only become a citizen after taking the oath. You will have to fill out a questionnaire on Form N-445, and if you do it correctly, they will turn your Green Card (Permanent Resident Card) into a Certificate of Naturalization. It is then reviewed by the USCIS to check it is correct, and you may leave the building as a US citizen.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

About The Author

Ben Todd

Ben was a seriously broke graduate student with bad credit who after finding himself rejected for any sort of credit card or loan for most of his adult life, finally decided to get his financial life in order. ' He spent several years reading as many financial advice books and blogs as he could. And suprisingly, Ben found he actually LIKED the topic of personal finance; after fixing his own finances, starting his own successful work at home website business, and using his earnings to get out of debt, created to help others do likewise!

1 Comment

  1. Laurie

    Some of those ways are interesting and I would not recommend them. I would definitely recommend following the law by the book, and if you are not sure of the process or what you need to do – seek out legal counsel. Very informative, thank you for sharing.


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