What Are The Benefits of U.S. Citizenship?
There are several benefits of U.S. citizenship, including: voting, bringing family members to the U.S., traveling with a U.S. passport, protection from abandonment of permanent resident status, and protection from deportation/removal.
Who Is Eligible For Naturalization?
The general rule is that a person must have their lawful permanent resident status for 5 years to become eligible for naturalization. Persons who are married to U.S. citizens only have to wait 3 years. An applicant for U.S. citizenship must be a person of good moral character, and must pass a naturalization exam. In addition, there are physical presence and continuous residence requirements that must be met.
See the Guide to Naturalization for more detailed information.
New Naturalization Exam
In October 2008, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a new naturalization exam.
The new naturalization test includes Civics and English reading and writing. The interviewer randomly selects 10 Civics questions and the applicant must get at least 6 answers correct. Some applicants may be eligible to take the test in their native language. This includes applicants who are at least 50 years old and have had their green cards for 20 or more years, and individuals who are at least 55 years old and have had their green cards for 15 or more years. Following are links to study materials for the new exam:
Civics (Government and History) Questions for new naturalization exam.
Civics (Government and History) Questions (Spanish) for new naturalization exam.
Vocabulary list for English Writing Test for new naturalization exam.
Vocabulary list for English Reading Test for new naturalization exam.
New Form N-400 (edition 1/22/09)
Catholic Charities of Idaho offers Citizenship Classes from time to time. Click here for contact info for CCI.
Some people are U.S. citizens and do not even know it. This is because they may have acquired citizenship at birth, or derived it later on. The law on acquired/derivative citizenship has changed over time; therefore, it is necessary to determine which law applies before analyzing whether a person is a U.S. citizen. The following nationality charts may be helpful:
Child Citizenship Act of 2000
Some children automatically become citizens when their parents naturalize. The basic requirements for a child to automatically become a citizen are:
- the child has at least one U.S. citizen parent (by birth or naturalization)
- the child is under 18 years old
- the child is currently residing permanently in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent
- the child is a lawful permanent resident
The following charts may be helpful: