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The path to U.S. citizenship

Getting citizenship in the United States comes with an array of benefits. The process can be difficult, but an attorney can help.

Individuals throughout the United States have overcome adversity to enter the country. As Attorney General Holder recently stated in his delivery during the naturalization ceremony at the Department of Justice, although each individual has taken a unique path to get to this country, each story is "as old as our Republic." Millions of immigrants have come to this country traveling over vast oceans, fleeing injustice and oppression to pursue the American Dream.

Pursuit of this dream is alive and well. However, actually obtaining citizenship through the naturalization process can be a long and arduous process.

Benefits of citizenship

There are a variety of benefits to obtaining citizenship. This includes the ability to keep residency, since a citizen's right to remain in the United States cannot be taken away. Citizens can travel with a U.S. passport. Having a U.S. passport allows government assistance when necessary when traveling overseas.

It is also important to note that obtaining citizenship is beneficial not just for the individual. Some additional considerations include the benefits to:

  • Community. Once citizenship is obtained, the individual can vote in federal and state elections. A citizen also has the ability to run for office themselves, allowing for an opportunity to have a voice in how the political system is run in his or her community.
  • Family. A citizen is also able to petition to bring family members permanently to the United States, including spouse, parents, children (married and unmarried), brothers and sisters. Citizens generally get priority when filing these petitions.

These are just a few of the rights and privileges that are available to those who obtain citizenship. Those who are interested in citizenship must complete a variety of requirements.


Applying for US citizenship

Permanent residents can apply for citizenship if they are 18 or older, have good moral character and have lived in the US for a continuous period of time. The applicant must also have lived in the United States for at least five years. (This time period is reduced to three years for certain permanent residents who obtained their green cards through marriage to a U.S. citizen spouse.) Additional requirements (which can be waived in certain instances) include an understanding of the U.S. government and the ability to read, write and communicate in English.

Obtaining citizenship, or going through the process of naturalization, is not easy. Completion of a lengthy application form is required, and those who do not follow the instructions or neglect to include certain information can face lengthy delays and potential denial of their application. A citizenship attorney can help guide you through the process and better ensure your odds of a more successful outcome.

Keywords: immigration naturalization