United States Citizenship Explained | What Are the Different Ways to Become a Citizen in the United States?

Millions of people around the world aspire to be citizens of the United States. There are a number of reasons for this. One of them is that you can obtain federal benefits that are only available to citizens of the United States...

United States Citizenship Explained | What Are the Different Ways to Become a Citizen in the United States?

What exactly does it mean to be a citizen of the United States? Citizenship has many advantages, but it is not as easy to obtain as you might think. It is defined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as being born in the United States or having been naturalized to become a citizen. There are two main paths to citizenship in the United States. If you were born in the United States or moved there as a child, you are most likely an American citizen; this path is known as jus soli and was established by the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Constitution. Citizenship by bloodline, or jus sanguinis, is for those who have become citizens through their parents or ancestors, even if they have never set foot on American soil.

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To become a citizen of the United States, you must go through several steps with both the federal government and the state in which you live. Here's everything you need to know about obtaining US citizenship, from age and length of residency requirements to how to apply, how long it takes, and what happens if you're denied. All of the other important details are covered in this guide to US citizenship. Whether you intend to apply soon or simply want to know what you're getting into if you were born in the United States but aren't yet eligible to become a citizen, make sure you read through this article before making any decisions that could have a significant impact on your life.

Understanding Citizenship in the United States

US citizenship is a legal status that grants Americans certain rights, duties, protections, and benefits in the United States. Citizenship in the United States serves as a foundation for fundamental rights derived from and protected by the country's constitution and laws, such as freedom of expression, the right to vote, to live and work in the United States, and to receive federal assistance.

Although, as I previously stated, there are only two main ways to obtain US citizenship: through birth and after birth. Citizenship in the United States can be obtained in four ways: through marriage in the United States, through derivation (through parents), through the military, and through naturalization. The majority of immigrants in the United States, however, obtain citizenship through the naturalization process.


What makes it distinct from simply having a Green Card?

After being legally accepted into the program, anyone who is a permanent resident in America can apply for US citizenship. It is not, however, an automatic acceptance; applicants must meet certain requirements in order to obtain US citizenship. After filing Form N-400 and paying all associated fees, permanent residents who are eligible for US citizenship will receive a certificate of naturalization by mail. The process typically takes 6 to 12 months, but it may take longer or shorter depending on your circumstances. You become a citizen with full rights once you receive your naturalization certificate.

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When it comes to traveling outside the country, there are some distinctions between those with green cards and citizens. Citizens, for example, have more freedom when traveling outside the country because they do not need prior approval from USCIS before leaving and returning to their home country, whereas green card holders must wait at least three years before leaving without first obtaining permission from USCIS.

What Are the Different Ways to Become a Citizen of the United States?

There are several paths you can take to become a US citizen; you simply need to learn more about each of the US citizenship pathways and determine which one is best for you. Immigrants from all over the world aspire to live the American dream and establish a new life in the United States. People who want to live the American dream can do so as long as they qualify based on the method of citizenship they choose.

Most immigrants begin their lives in the United States by obtaining a Green Card, which allows them to become lawful permanent residents. However, obtaining a Green Card is not the only way to become a proud American citizen. Becoming a US citizen gives you far more rights than a Green Card holder and comes with numerous benefits.

The application process for US citizenship is complicated, with each citizenship pathway having its own set of requirements. This guide will help you understand each of the available pathways and how to apply for them in order to fulfill your dream of becoming a citizen of the United States.

Citizenship by Naturalization

Naturalization is the process by which a person who was not born in the United States voluntarily becomes a citizen of the United States. Naturalization is the most common way for foreign nationals to become citizens of the United States. However, foreigners may still be eligible for other paths. Before an individual can apply for citizenship, several requirements must be met.

In general, the main requirement for applying for naturalization is to be a green card holder or permanent resident of the United States. To be eligible for naturalization, you must have held lawful permanent resident status in the United States for at least five years.

Citizenship by Marriage

If you are married to a US citizen, you may be able to obtain US citizenship. You may be able to apply for a Green Card if you are married to a US citizen. Your spouse must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. This form will assist you in applying for your green card. It formalizes your relationship with your spouse. However, there are some things you will need to prove before you can get that green card.

Essentially, you will need to demonstrate the legitimacy of your relationship and provide documentation, such as your marriage certificate. You can apply for naturalization as a US citizen after obtaining a Green Card. However, petitioning a relative for a green card necessitates a significant amount of paperwork.

Citizenship via Parents

Furthermore, U.S. citizenship can be obtained through your parents' status. If both of your parents were born in the United States and are married, you are automatically granted U.S. citizenship by birth, even if you were born elsewhere. As long as your parents are married, this will work. If they are, you can obtain citizenship even if you were not born in the United States.

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However, at least one of the parents must have lived in the United States prior to the child's birth. Furthermore, when a parent naturalizes, the children (under the age of 18 and living with the parent at the time) may automatically "derive" U.S. citizenship, provided they are also permanent residents.

Military Service Provides Citizenship

Foreign nationals who have served honorably in the United States armed forces can also obtain U.S. citizenship through naturalization. There are, however, some requirements that you must meet if you want to become a citizen in this manner. The requirements differ depending on whether you served during a time of peace or during a time of war.

The prerequisites are as follows:

  • You must be familiar with the government and history of the United States.
  • When applying, you must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must be able to read, write, and speak English.
  • You must be morally sound, which means that you pay your taxes and child support on time and have not been convicted of any serious crimes.

How to Obtain US Citizenship

Furthermore, the following are the various steps involved in obtaining US citizenship through naturalization.

1. Immigration

Because you were not born in the United States to a citizen parent, your citizenship journey will begin when you immigrate to the United States. Before you can become a U.S. citizen, you must first obtain LPR (lawful permanent resident of the United States) status. The LPR status is also known as having a Green Card. Meanwhile, there are several ways to enter the United States and obtain a Green Card.

These are their names:

  • Through studies, you can then get a job and obtain LPR status.
  • Employment
  • Asylum and humanitarian assistance
  • Family
  • Investment
  • The green card lottery for diversity

2. Spend five years in the United States.

One of the primary requirements for becoming a US citizen is to have been a lawful permanent resident (LPR) for five years. There is an exception for immigrants who obtained their Green Card through the marriage of a U.S. citizen. They only need to be Green Card holders for three years.

3. Physical Existence

Another requirement is that you have been physically present in the United States for at least half of the time you have held LPR status. That is, either 30 months (2.5 years out of a possible five) or 18 months (1.5 years out of three). Furthermore, you must have lived in the state where you are applying for citizenship for at least 90 days.

4. Excellent Moral Character

You must be of good moral character for the five years preceding filing and up to admission, or for three years preceding filing and up to admission in the case of a spouse. It means you did not have certain types of crimes on your record at any time before filing, such as murder, illegal gambling, or intentionally lying to the US government in order to obtain immigration benefits, and you did not lie during your naturalization interview. However, whether an applicant meets this requirement is determined on a case-by-case basis by the government.

5. Willing to Defend the United States Constitution and Service in the United States Military

Furthermore, you must accept the US constitution and be willing to serve in the US military or perform civilian service for the US if called upon. If you are male and have lived in the United States between the ages of 18 and 25, you must register with the Selective Service System.

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6. Naturalization Application

The first step toward becoming a citizen of the United States is to submit an Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) and pay the filing fee. You can either fill out and mail a paper application or apply online. If you file online, you must first set up an account with the U.S. Services for Citizenship and Naturalization (USCIS). The next step is to schedule your biometrics appointment at a USCIS field office near you.

Then comes the citizenship interview and exam. The interview for citizenship is usually scheduled 14 months after you file your application. Meanwhile, a USCIS officer will review your naturalization application to ensure that all of the information on it is correct. The exam, on the other hand, occurs concurrently with the interview. The USCIS officer will also administer a two-part naturalization test to you.

An English language test, the first component, will assess your written and spoken English skills. The second, a civics test, will assess your knowledge of US history as well as basic knowledge of how the US government operates. After the interview, if you pass the interview and exam, the USCIS officer will approve your application. However, USCIS may request additional documentation or schedule a second interview in some cases.

7. The Pledge of Allegiance

After your application is approved, you will be required to take the Oath of Allegiance. You must publicly swear allegiance to the United States. It is critical that you complete this step. You are not a citizen of the United States until you have taken the Oath of Allegiance. Following your citizenship interview, you will be mailed a notice with the date, time, and location of the ceremony.

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The length of time required to schedule the ceremony varies by state. However, the process typically takes about a year, and over 700,000 applicants are naturalized each year. When you check-in, you will be asked to return your green card. After the ceremony, you will be given a Certificate of Naturalization and will be able to begin your life as a U.S. citizen. You can apply for a US passport after receiving your citizenship certificate. Because the United States allows dual citizenship, you can be a citizen of another country while also qualifying to be a citizen of America.


Obtaining US citizenship is no easy task. There will be several steps to take and many important considerations to keep in mind throughout the application process. When it comes down to it, becoming a US citizen can be difficult—but it is well worth the effort! You may be looking for answers to questions like, "Is it difficult to become a US citizen now? What is the simplest way to become a US citizen?" However, there is no "easy" US immigration and citizenship program.

Navigating the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and its programs can be a difficult task. When applying for citizenship, you must demonstrate that you can meet the numerous stringent requirements; failure to do so may result in your application being rejected. One mistake on your application can quickly send you back to square one. Whichever of the four paths to citizenship you choose, you can expect it to be expensive and time-consuming.

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