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How to become a U.S. citizen? What is the process of naturalization?

The United States citizenship gives an individual the maximum rights and benefits that the country offers, for example, there are some rights that only U.S. citizens have, like working on certain federal jobs, the right to vote, the right to have a U.S. passport, and to travel visa-free to most countries, and some other advantages of being a U.S. citizen. 

How to become a U.S. citizen

You may become a U.S. citizen: 

1. Automatically at Birth

2. Through Naturalization

1. Citizenship Automatically at Birth

Many children are born United States citizens automatically at birth. Citizenship can be acquired by two main principles, the principle of jus soli, which means “right of the soil” in Latin, also referred to as the right of the birthplace, or by the principle of Jus sanguinis, what means in Latin the “right of blood.” Children acquire their U.S. citizenship just because they are born in the territory of the United States, or because they are born abroad from at least one U.S. citizen parent that complies with certain requirements of physical presence in the United States.

You may become a U.S. citizen automatically at birth if you were:

How to become a U.S. citizen

1. Born in the United States

The most common way to become a U.S. citizen automatically at birth is when a child is born in the territory of the United States. Children born in the United States are not required to have American parents, or parents with a green card or resident status in order to become U.S. citizens at birth. Just the fact of being born in the United States gives a newborn U.S. citizenship automatically. 

Please note that there are some exceptions for the children of people with diplomatic status in the U.S. A child born in the United States from a parent that is a foreign diplomatic officer accredited to the United States is not subject to the jurisdiction of United States law because of his diplomatic status. Therefore the child can not be considered a U.S. citizen at birth. However, the child may be considered a permanent resident at birth and be able to receive a green card through the creation of the record.

Most children born in the United States are citizens automatically and all they have to do to have proof of their citizenship is to obtain a birth certificate. Birth certificates in general are issued by the State where the child was born.

2. Born abroad from American Parent(s)

Another way to become a U.S. citizen by birth is when a child is born abroad, outside of the U.S., but at least one of the parents is an American citizen that complies with certain physical presence requirements. There are many requirements that apply and in some cases even if the children born abroad don’t acquire U.S. citizenship at birth they still are eligible for the faster naturalization process.

2. Citizenship Through Naturalization:

For those that are not Americans by birth, but wish to become citizens of the United States than the path to becoming a citizen is to become naturalized. U.S. Naturalization is the process by which a citizen of a foreign country obtains U.S. citizenship and becomes a naturalized citizen of the United States. In general, the first step to becoming a naturalized U.S. Citizen is to apply for a green card, also known as a permanent resident card or immigrant visa. After holding a Green Card for a certain time and comply with certain requirements, a U.S. legal permanent resident may be eligible to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. Acquiring U.S. citizenship through naturalization can be complex and not everybody is eligible, there are several steps and requirements.