The advantage of U.S. citizenship
Those who have a Green Card do not have to become citizens of the United States in order to live permanently in the U.S., since a permanent Green Card gives the right to a lifetime stay in America. However, there are some limitations and potential issues that green card holders may have, therefore applying for U.S. citizenship can be advantageous and bring many benefits.
Green Card holders can apply for citizenship with the USCIS, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, after having fulfilled certain requirements. The process is also called naturalization.
The advantage of U.S. citizenship is not only the right to participate and vote in elections. It also provides protection: from deportation, from loss of legal status when you are traveling abroad for an extended time, and also the advantage of being able to request a green card for immediate relatives and spouse.
The process of obtaining citizenship includes 3 main steps.
- Apply for citizenship.
- Pass the citizenship and English test.
- Complete the oath of allegiance to the United States.
The process of naturalization, including all necessary forms and support documents can take approximately 1 year, depending on many factors.
Length of stay in the U.S. when applying for citizenship
The right of citizenship is granted to people who have lived in the U.S, for 5 years as a Permanent Resident. Those who served in the U.S. Army have the right to apply earlier. The application can be submitted for 3 months before the expiration of the term of 5 years residence in the U.S..
If the reason of getting a Green Card was marriage to a U.S. citizen, then if you are still married, you have the right to apply after 3 years of being a permanent resident.
When residing in another country for more than 1 year, the waiting period starts again. It can also cause you to be deprived of the right to keep your permanent residence. An exception may be job in an American international trading company abroad, work in the civil service and some other cases. In these cases, it is possible that you can extend your stay in another country up to 2 years, and the waiting time won’t be broken even if you live abroad.
For those who serve in the U.S. Army there are other rules for obtaining citizenship with many advantages.
Staying in the U.S. when you apply for citizenship
Green Card holder must be in the country for at least half of the waiting period, depending on the grounds for obtaining the Green Card. People who are married with U.S. citizen must stay in the country for at least 1.5 years, except for some cases.
Living in the state while obtaining U.S. citizenship
Before applying for naturalization, you must be in the state where you will apply, for at least 3 months. Also, before you take an oath and receive a citizenship you must permanently reside in this state. If you move to another state, you will have to re-apply.
You need to contact the local immigration office of the state which you reside.