The United States bestows citizenship in 3 ways:
- Birth (jus soli) - a person born in the United States
- Blood (jus sanguinis) - a person born outside of the United States of 2 US citizens where at least 1 parent lived in the US prior to the birth of the child
- Naturalization - A person not of US birth or blood choosing to become a citizen of the US.
Rights and Duties of Citizenship
- Adult citizens of the United States have the right to vote and to participate in government
- Male adult citizens have the duty to sign up for Selective Service and may be required to take up arms on behalf of national security
- Adult citizens have the duty to serve on juries
Requirements for Naturalized Citizenship
- Age - applicant must be at least 18 years old
- Literacy and Education - applicant must show a basic, working knowledge of:
- Read, written, and spoken English
- US history, politics, and government
- Residency - applicants must have lived in the US as a permanent resident for 5 years, half of which must be physically in the US - or 3 years for a spouse of a US citizen who has been in the US for at least 3 years.
- Moral Character - though harder to define, citizenship does require "good, moral character" and can be denied on certain moral grounds.
- Pass Citizenship Test - applicants are given a citizenship test which is 10 questions and applicants must answer at least 6 correctly. The test is given by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services who publishes a list of 96 questions, from which the test may be drawn.
- Oath of Allegiance - applicants must take an oath of allegiance renouncing all ties to any other county, agreeing to uphold the Constitution, and obligating the new citizen to bear arms if required.
For a child to become a US citizen he or she must:
- be under 18 years old
- have at least 1 US parent
- been admitted into the US as a lawful permanent resident or have been granted that status
- legally adopted under provisions and requirements of adoption areas of immigration law
Dual Citizenship is a status that's neither accepted nor denied under US Immigration Law. Though the Oath of Allegiance does require new citizens to renounce all other national ties, it has not been enforced. Children of US citizens born in other countries are also granted Dual Citizenship status.
Loss of Citizenship
Though not common, it is possible to lose one's citizenship. Loss of citizenship can occur when:
- naturalization in another country
- foreign armed service after gaining US citizenship
- voting in a foreign government election
- voluntary renunciation
Citizenship is a very complex legal process. If you, or a loved one, wishes to become a US citizen, it's very important to consult a qualified immigration lawyer. A local immigration attorney knows the proper paperwork and processes to get your citizenship issues dealt with. Speak with an immigration attorney near you today
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Many immigrants will need to hire an immigration lawyer, especially if they are facing deportation.
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