Many Americans are concerned about immigration. An important question is whether the current system allows too many immigrants to remain in the United States. This is a question that Congress, and particularly the House of Representatives, must resolve when it considers immigration reform proposals this year. To inform this debate, Members need accurate information about the typical “path to citizenship” taken by immigrants granted lawful permanent residence in the U.S.
What is the process for becoming a U.S. citizen?
There are three basic steps to becoming a naturalized U.S. Citizen
Being admitted to the United States as a Lawful Permanent Resident,
Living in the United States for five years or three if married to a U.S. citizen,
Applying at the local Citizenship & Immigration Services (CIS) Office and taking the Oath of Allegiance.
How to apply for U.S. citizenship?
To become a citizen of the United States, most people need to meet these eligibility requirements: must be 18 years old or older; must have been a permanent resident for five years (three if married to U.S. citizen); must have a physical presence in the United States for 30 months of the five years; must be a person of good moral character.
What are the requirements of becoming a U.S. citizen?
You must be a lawful permanent resident of the United States. If you are not yet a green card holder, you do not have to be in the U.S… You can apply for naturalization if your visa is already stamped “Conditional.” (Please note that because some visas state “status pending,” you MUST be physically present in the U.S. to apply for citizenship.)
It would be best to have a good moral character (you do not have a severe criminal record, abuse drugs or alcohol, etc.).
You must be a person of sound mind and body, with no physical or mental disabilities that would prevent you from taking care of yourself or exercising your rights and duties as a citizen.
You must be able to read, write and speak basic English. Those who are over 50 may be exempt.
You must have an attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution (you support democracy in general, you believe in equal rights for all people, etc.).
You must be willing and able to take the Oath of Allegiance (to support and defend the U.S. Constitution, obey U.S. laws, etc.).
What benefits can I get for being a U.S. citizen?
After becoming a U.S. citizen, you get these benefits:
voting in local elections
running for office (excluding President)
serving on juries
holding public office
What are the costs associated with applying for U.S. citizenship?
The costs associated with applying for U.S. citizenship are among the highest in the world. In addition to paying a $700 application fee, individuals must prove that they can financially support themselves and their dependents for three years if denied permanent residency without public benefits or any financial help from family members, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
The U.S. government charges over $700 for a naturalization application, compared to an average of $100 in Canada. Norway requires immigrants seeking citizenship to pay between $175 and $330. The only countries that surpass the U.S. are Australia ($1,460), New Zealand ($550), Ireland (almost $400), and Italy (over $300).
The $700 application fee, established in 2007, was increased from $330 in 1994. In comparison, the average cost charged by U.S. states for a driver’s license is about $36.50. For visa applications, the OECD countries that charge more than the United States include Belgium ($179), Germany ($175), and Switzerland ($135).
The U.S. citizenship application process can last for more than a year, according to the report. This includes the time required to study a 100-question civics test that covers information related to history, geography, government, and cultural topics such as sports and holidays. In addition, there is an English exam and ten fingerprints biometrics taken by the U.S. government.
The benefits and drawbacks of living in America as an immigrant or non-citizen include social security, healthcare, education, taxes, and voting rights.
– Social Security: As a permanent resident of the U.S., you may qualify for payments based on your employment record. Non-citizens who have worked under 40 quarters (10 years) are eligible to receive payments based on their contributions. Conditions apply.
– Health Insurance: As long as you can show proof of being accepted in an approved program, you are entitled to benefits under the affordable care act.
– Education: While being an immigrant may cause some problems regarding financial and legal aid, chances are you will still be able to receive federal student loans based on your family’s (or individual) financial situation.
– Taxes: While it is true that immigrants pay taxes, they legally cannot collect benefits such as social security.
– Voting: It is up to the state whether or not non-citizens are allowed to vote in elections, but it is at a state level, and federal law does not prohibit you from voting (there are no federal laws regarding voting rights). A few exceptions can be made for permanent residents (who have been paying their taxes for five years) and people who are denied citizenship.
– The requirement to carry an ID Card: There is no federal law requiring anyone from any country to have identification. However, some states do require that you show proof of insurance or permit before driving a vehicle. Finally, some employers will ask for either a social security number or a passport along with your identification card.
– Driving: Non-citizens are allowed to drive legally in the USA but may have some issues when it comes time for renewal. Most states require proof of insurance, and if you do not show it, they will suspend your license until you can provide it. Some state agencies will not allow you to renew your request if you can’t provide proof of insurance. Again, some employers will ask for either a social security number, passport, or evidence of residency before they hire (evidence that you can legally work in the USA).
– Getting an ID Card: If you don’t have an identification card, the first step is getting your social security number. This can be done at any Social Security Office by showing proof of age and your tax return from the previous year. You will need to show one of these documents:
a. Birth Certificate
c. Naturalization Certificate (Form N-550, N-570, or N-578)
What are some pros and cons of living in America as an immigrant or non-citizen?
Yes, there are some pros to living in America. America is a country that I respect and admire and appreciate the opportunities it has given me to fulfill my dreams. Some of the pros are that we have more freedoms than in other countries, like the freedom of speech. We live in a very peaceful place where everybody has equal rights and opportunities. There is also diversity; people here are very different from people in other countries, and we appreciate them.”
However, there are some cons as well. America is not a perfect country because they have problems like everywhere else in the world. In this county, racism exists, and some people in the government are fighting for independent states like Texas to separate from America. There’s also discrimination [against] Hispanics and Muslims, but there’s more freedom of speech than other countries.”
How can immigrants become citizens in other countries if they do not want to live in America permanently but still want the benefits that come with it (ease of travel)?
Immigrants in the United States who are not permanent residents might live outside of America for an extended time and return without having to worry about losing the legal status they have been given. Many countries, including Mexico, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, allow immigrants to become citizens if they are willing to leave America permanently.
Such temporary citizenship might be an option for immigrants who have recently acquired legal status through a visa. It is important to note that many of the countries mentioned above do not allow immigrants to return after spending some time out of the country to maintain their citizenship. In other words, they must move to their permanent residence if they want to continue living there.
With that being said, immigrants need to be aware of the consequences of accepting temporary status in other countries. It is possible that the law can change, and then the immigrant will not be allowed to return to America legally if they have accepted citizenship elsewhere. Also, many countries make it difficult or impossible for people who have lived outside of the country to vote.