Congratulations you have received your Green Card and are now a Permanent Resident! The next milestone in your immigration journey is becoming an U.S. Citizen!
Becoming a U.S. Citizen has many benefits which include the right to vote in U.S. elections, traveling abroad as often as you want, serving on a jury, the ability to petition for your parents and siblings, and more! While you cannot become an U.S. Citizen overnight, you can certainly become a U.S. Citizen one day! The first step is to get a Green Card! Continue reading to learn more about the next steps. This is an exciting chapter in your life that will open many opportunities!
The Five Key Steps to a Path to U.S. Citizenship
Have a Green Card
The first step to citizenship is receiving your Green Card! Permanent residency will allow you to meet the requirements of living in the United States for the required time period and have proof of residency.
Reside and Be Present in the United States for Five Years
After obtaining your Green Card, you must live in the United States for at least five years, or three years if you are married to an U.S. Citizen. You must also be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the five years immediately before the date you file your citizenship application. Keep in mind therefore, that excessive travel could be an issue and plan your travels accordingly.
Uphold Good Moral Character
You must prove that you are a person of good moral character for your citizenship application. Good moral character is not just about being a good person. It also includes a review of your criminal background, payment of taxes, whether you paid your child support, if applicable, and any other behavior or actions that reflect on your character. If you do have a criminal history, obtain your Certificates of Disposition, and resolve any open cases before applying for citizenship; we also recommend meeting with an Immigration Attorney for more specific guidance.
Practice your English
During the interview, which will be conducted completely in English, you will get tested on your basic English skills. If this is something you struggle with, it may be helpful to practice with a friend or family member or even attend English classes. The officer wants to see that you understand English – that you did not just memorize the answers to the questions. Beyond preparation for the test, learning English will be a part of the American identity and it is also a valuable skill as English is spoken all over the world.
Study United States History
Your citizenship interview will include a test on U.S. history, principles, and government. There are 10 questions you will need to answer from a set of possible 100, and you only need to get six of them right! You can watch documentaries, visit museums, take tours of historical sites, and read historical books to increase your knowledge of U.S. history. Learn about the American Revolutionary War – the original 13 colonies, the Declaration of Independence, and more. This will lead to a greater appreciation for what being a U.S. citizen means.
Note: *If you meet certain age and residency requirements, you may be exempt from the English and Civics requirements.
It might seem like a long wait before you can apply for citizenship but you can use that waiting period to prepare so that when the time comes – you are ready and the exam is a breeze! Practice English and prepare for the civics test by engaging with other people and learning about the United States through exploration. The pathway to citizenship will be an enriching experience that will have significant meaning when you finally take that oath, at your oath ceremony, and become an U.S. Citizen!