If you were born in America, you become a citizen by birth even when you could have lived outside of America for some time. The same applies to children of American citizens born in another part of the world.
In addition, there are provisions for becoming a U.S citizen even if you were not born in America, usually through a process called naturalization. However, to become an American citizen by naturalization, one must fulfill all the legal requirements, as highlighted in this post.
Requirements For Becoming A Citizen Through Naturalization
There are many advantages to becoming an American citizen legally. These benefits include the right to vote, access to a wider variety of jobs, and having the option to hold a public office.
Below are some of the requirements you may need to meet to become an American citizen.
- The applicant must be a minimum of 18 years of age. However, there are exemptions for individuals that have served in the U.S. military.
- You must have been legally living and working in America (a green card holder) for a minimum of five years and three years for spouses of U.S. citizens.
- You must have had five years of continuous residence in America or three years for persons married to a U.S. citizen.
- You must have a basic knowledge of written and spoken English. However, some people do not have to take an English or history test depending on their years of living in America, their age, or if they have a form of disability.
- You must have a basic knowledge of U.S. history. However, some persons may be exempt from the history test as mentioned above.
- Must not have a criminal history
Demonstrating Continuous Residence
As highlighted above, a person can only be eligible to apply for U.S citizenship if they had lived and worked in America (green card holder) for a minimum of five years and three years for persons married to American citizens. However, continuous residency does not mean you cannot leave the United States in the said period. The only requirement is that you do not stay outside the U.S. for more than six continuous months.
Abandonment Of Permanent Residence
The USCIS will presume a green card holder to have abandoned their U.S. permanent residency if they live outside the United States for more than six consecutive months. And as a result, that may be used as a reason to deny them U.S citizenship applications.
However, there are ways to overcome the presumption abandonment, which include:
- The amount of time beyond the set time you lived outside the United States
- The validity of the reason for your overstaying
- The discretion of the evaluating USCIS officer, meaning an officer can sometimes deny your application for having too many long trips outside of the U.S. for the time in question.
While you can leave and return without losing your permanent residency status, there is a requirement that a person applying for citizenship has been physically present in the United States for half the time stipulated according to the nature of the application. For example, persons required to have lived in the United States for five years must have been physically in the U.S. for two and half years or 913 days.
Can You Renounce Your U.S Citizenship?
Yes, you can. If you intend to renounce your citizenship, this article on renouncing U.S citizenship can be of great help to you.
An American citizen can also choose to renounce their U.S citizenship. However, persons intending to renounce American citizenship, like those seeking citizenship, must meet some set legal requirements.
The process of renouncing a U.S citizenship can be complicated, which requires getting the correct information and assistance before taking this step.