An Overview of United States Citizenship/American Citizenship.
Applying for U.S Citizenship is optional for most Immigrants. For many Immigrants in the U.S, becoming an American Citizen is a lifetime dream. While some Immigrants Pursue their goal of becoming a U.S Citizen, others are content to remain lawful Permanent residents of the United States. There are various ways of becoming a United States Citizen either within the U.S or outside the U.S.
U.S Citizenship by Birth in the U.S
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that anyone born in the United States and subject to the United States’ jurisdiction is a United States Citizen by Birth. Therefore, the right to Citizenship vest automatically without any action on the part of such persons.
Exception for Children Born in the U.S. to Foreign Diplomats.
There is an exception for children born in the U.S to high-ranking foreign diplomats in the United States having full diplomatic immunity and not subject to the United States’ jurisdiction. These children do not fall within the provisions of the 14th Amendment and are not Citizens or Nationals of the United States. They are, however, eligible to apply for Lawful Permanent Residents Status.
Acquisition of U.S Citizenship through U.S Citizen Parent(s)
Person(s) born in another country to parents who are United States Citizens or one of whom is a U.S. Citizen may acquire U.S Citizen at birth through the U.S Citizen Parents if eligible. These individuals acquire Citizenship automatically, though born abroad. They are natural-born American citizens.
However, the rules that determine who acquires U.S. citizens at birth outside the United States are complicated and depend on the person’s date of birth and the immigration law in effect at the time of delivery.
U.S Citizenship through Naturalization after birth.
Upon fulfilling the legal requirements for Naturalization, lawful permanent residents in the U.S may become United States Citizens through Naturalization. The Immigration and Nationality Act contains multiple means of Naturalization after birth, in addition to the “normal” path requiring five years after obtaining permanent resident status.
Derivation of U.S Citizenship through U.S Citizen Parent(s) after birth
Some children automatically derive U.S. citizenship when their parents become American citizens or when the children become lawful permanent residents of the U.S. The rules governing derivative Citizenship vary according to the date the relevant event occurred.
Benefits of becoming a United States Citizen
There are many advantages to becoming a United States Citizen. Some of which are:
- Vote in United States Elections.
- Travel with a United States passport to other countries.
- Help non-U.S Citizens’ relatives Immigrate to the United States.
- Obtain federal government jobs and certain government benefits
- Hold a public office.
- Protection from deportation and removal from the United States
- live in another country without losing the right to return to the United States legally.
- Obtain Citizenship for Children born abroad.
Responsibilities of United States Citizens
United State Citizens are to:
- Have allegiance to the United States;
- Support and defend the Constitution & Laws of the United States;
- Serve the country when required.
- Participate in the political process by registering and voting in elections.
- Serve on a jury, etc.
Pitfalls of Applying for U.S. Citizenship
Applying for American Citizenship through Naturalization can be risky for some immigrants because the application process allows the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to reopen and review the Immigrant’s file for disqualifications, errors, fraud, and misrepresentation in previous immigration benefits granted. A red-flag that raises questions regarding eligibility for Naturalization or past immigration benefits may result in a nightmare.
Deportation during Naturalization Process
- Becoming a United States Citizen is not the best path for everyone who is a Lawful Permanent Resident.
- The Naturalization Application may start an investigation by the united states Citizenship and Immigration Services ( USCIS) into applicants’ immigration history.
- Lawful Permanent Residents may be subject to removal/deportation for several reasons.
- Permanent residents of the U.S with unresolved negative and deportable immigration issues may end up in deportation proceedings during the Naturalization application process.
Loss of Property Rights
- Some countries restrict foreigners, including naturalized United States Citizens, from ownership of property. Becoming a U.S. Citizen may affect Property rights in Native Country.
- Some Countries do not allow for dual Citizenship, and becoming a U.S. citizen may result in the loss of Citizenship in the native country. However, some countries allow for dual Citizenship.
Language & Educational Barrier
- The Naturalization process can be overwhelming and intimidating for some Applicants.
- Some Applicants with limited education or knowledge of the English language may have difficulty preparing and passing the Naturalization examination.
Applying for American Citizenship requires careful planning and evaluation so that the ultimate goal of becoming a U.S. citizen is achieved.
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