Getting a visa, being sponsored by relatives for a green card (permanent resident card)
or getting a green card through one's own eligibility are the commonly used
immigration procedures to enter the United States. You can enter the United States
through an immigrant or non-immigrant visa. Non-immigrant visas are for temporary
visits to the U.S., basically for tourism, study, or work. On the other hand, immigrant
visas allow for Permanent Residence in the U.S. With a green card, you can live and
work in the US legally. You can get a green card while you are in the US or outside.
The process of getting a green card while physically being present in the US is called
adjustment of status and getting one while being outside the US or if you are
ineligible to adjust status, it is called consular processing.
You can become a citizen of the US either by birth or through Naturalization. You
automatically become a citizen of the US if you were born in the US, and you can also
claim citizenship if you were born abroad to US citizen parents, but this is subject to
certain conditions. Naturalization can be defined as the process where a person not
born in the US becomes a citizen voluntarily. You need to file form N-400,
Application for Naturalization to get naturalized.
You have to fulfill certain eligibility requirements for immigration and naturalization.
You should be a permanent resident (green card holder) for at least five years or three
years if married to a US citizen and you should be living with the citizen spouse for
the past three years. You need to meet other requirements too. You have to be 18 years
old or above. In addition to these, you have to fulfill the continuous residence and
physical presence requirement. Note that a prolonged absence from the U.S. will
break the continuity of your residence in the U.S. for naturalization purposes.
However it may not affect your ability to return to the U.S. as a permanent resident.
Another factor to consider is that you should have resided in your current state for at
least three months. The state where you are submitting the citizenship application is
your current state.
Additionally, you should be able to read, write, and speak basic English to qualify
for citizenship. The citizenship process requires you to have a basic knowledge of U.S.
history and government (also known as civics). Some applicants, because of their age
or disability, have different English and civics requirements.
The submission fee for the citizenship application is $595.00. Apart from this, a
biometric fee of $80.00 is required when filing this immigration and naturalization
form. You will be exempted from the biometric fee if you are above 75 years of age.
You may submit one check/money order for $675 for both the submission and
biometric fees. All immigration and naturalization applicants filing under the military
category do not require a filing fee.
Once you have completed and sent the application to the USCIS, you will get an
Application Receipt Notice with a 13-character Application Receipt number. You can
check the status of your case with this receipt number. Then, you will be notified
about the date you need to appear for finger printing. In the mean time, national
security background checks will be conducted and finally you will have to appear for
an interview. If the interviewing officials are fully satisfied, your application will be