If you are born in the United States or a recognized territory, you have citizenship at birth. For those not born in the U.S., naturalization is the only way to achieve equal footing.
Immigration with the intent to remain in the U.S. is a multi-step process. While there are a few ways you can begin the citizenship process, naturalization is the only way to hold the same legal rights as birthright citizens.
What are the ways to become a naturalized citizen?
Fortunately, there is more than one way to gain citizenship.
Your spouse is a citizen
Getting married to a U.S. citizen as a non-resident may fast-track your naturalization process. However, it does not mean you get instant citizenship. You have to show that your relationship is authentic and your marriage long-lasting. Your spouse must complete documentation that promises to look after your financial well-being for some time, even if you do not remain married.
You have a green card
A green card is a powerful and common first step in becoming a permanent citizen. You must apply for a green card before entering the country and do so under one of the following conditions:
- You have immediate family in the U.S.
- You have a job in the U.S.
- You are a trafficking victim
- You are seeking political asylum
After you have a green card for five years, you may apply to finish the naturalization process. At that time, you will need to take the entrance exam, undergo a medical test, interview and any other steps required.
Becoming a citizen may require assistance from a knowledgeable professional who can help walk you or your family member through it.