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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. US Citizenship: 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 approved.
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