Starting over in a new country is exciting and frightening at the same time. There can be uncertainty about the right legal steps to take and deadlines to meet.
Whether you’re interested in adjusting your status or you’re new to the country and curious about naturalization, knowing the path to citizenship will help you avoid hassle and frustration.
The 10 steps to naturalization
The first two steps in the immigration process will inform your next move. To begin with, you’ll want to find if you’re already a US citizen, such as through birth or marriage.
If not, you’ll need to determine eligibility. There is an eligibility worksheet that you can use to check if you’re able to apply for naturalization.
You qualify to apply to become a naturalized citizen if you’re a legal adult or a permanent resident card holder
In addition, you must have lived continuously in the U.S. for at least five years and living in the county or state where you’re applying for at least three months. In order to be considered a continuous resident, you cannons leave the country for a period of more than 30 months while here as a legal immigrant.
Women over the age of 18 have few restrictions other than being “of good moral character” and a law abiding person. If you’re a male, there are a few more requirements for naturalization.
For example, age and Selective Service status play a part. Men under the age of 26 but over 18 must have entered the country legally and registered with the selective service or provide a letter explaining non-registration. Men over the age of 26 need only have entered legally.
However, you will be deemed ineligible if you claimed exemption from military service on the grounds that you are an alien, been discharged from service due to your legal status, or deserted the armed forces.
All prospective citizens must be willing to support the Constitution and pledge an oath to our country.
Getting your residency status approved as soon as possible will allow you to settle into your new home and begin your life in America with peace of mind. There are some exemptions from several of these requirements, so make sure to get the appropriate forms and whatever proofs and paperwork you need before you file.