The process of obtaining U.S. citizenship is called “naturalization”. Immigrants can obtain U.S. citizenship in several ways, but the process may be complex.
A person born in the United States is already a U.S. citizen. People born in other countries can often obtain U.S. citizenship if their parents are U.S. citizens (also known as derivative citizenship) or through naturalization (applying for U.S. citizenship by filing Form N-400).
Steps to apply for naturalization:
First Step: Be a U.S. legal permanent resident/green card holder. In general, only legal permanent residents can apply for naturalization.
In order to apply for naturalization the applicant should:
In the case of a marriage-based Adjustment of Status (spousal adjustment), the purpose of the application is also to show that the applicant (the foreign spouse) has a good faith marriage with their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. When the applicant is filing an Adjustment of Status based on marriage, it is often possible to file Form I-130 and Form I-485 at the same time (a process called “concurrent filing”).
Adjustments of Status can also be filed under other categories if the visa is current and the person otherwise qualifies. For example, an individual with an approved 1-360 or U visa might also qualify for Adjustment of Status.
Family members of U.S. citizens or green card holders,
Non-immediate family categories may be eligible for a green card but the process can often involve a very long waiting time (the waiting period can exceed 20 years).
This category applies to religious workers, special immigrant youth, representatives of international media, or employees (and their families) of an international organization. In the case of Afghan or Iraqi special immigrants, they must have been Afghan or Iraqi translators for the United States government, have been employed by or for the United States government in Iraq, on or after March 20, 2003, for at least one year, and have been employed by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Immigrants might be eligible for refugee status if they have suffered persecution on the basis of race, religion, national origin or because they belong to certain social groups or have certain political opinions, according to the USCIS.
To apply for asylum in the United States, you must “meet the refugee definition,” be in the United States or apply at a United States port of entry.
Asylees can usually apply for a green card one year after asylum was granted.
U Visa: Immigrant victims of certain crimes who have been helpful in a criminal investigation or prosecution may qualify for a visa that can lead to a green card.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows an abused spouse or child of a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident or an abused parent of a U.S. Citizen to self-petition for lawful status in the United States, receive employment authorization, and access public benefits. VAWA also has a provision for abused parents of U.S. citizens. VAWA often leads to a green card.
T Visa: Human trafficking survivors may be eligible for lawful status, employment authorization, and a potential path to permanent residency.
Citizens of Liberia who have been in the country continuously since 2014.
If you are part of the diversity visa program, by the Cuban adjustment law, among others.
The S visa is a visa that allows persons who are witnesses or informants to assist law enforcement and provide information about a criminal organization in the U.S. In some cases, the S visa can lead to a green card.
If you already have a green card, the naturalization process has other steps that someone must take into account to become a citizen. The applicant must: