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Citizenship is a status that many naturalized citizens take for granted; however, those that are attempting to obtain it know all too well the freedoms and protections that come along with this particular designation. Obtaining U.S. citizenship as an immigrant is a lengthy process that is fraught with quite a bit of paperwork and time spent learning a bit about American history and the laws that govern these lands.
There are two ways to become a U.S. citizen: either through birth or thereafter. To be considered a citizen through birth, applicants either have to be born on U.S. soil or be born to parents that were citizens when you were born. However, those attempting to become a citizen after birth must apply for this designation.
The U.S. citizenship application is steeped in enough fear and confusion among immigrants that many don't attempt the process at all for fear of being unable to navigate the form. However, broken down, the form in and of itself is not complicated to understand. Those filling it out simply need to be prepared to provide certain types of information, meet a set of basic requirements and ensure that the information filled into the blank spaces of the application are true and verifiable. It should be noted that anyone filing a U.S. citizenship application must be at least 18 at the time of the filing. Applicants must also have a valid green card and have held it successfully for at least five years; immigrants must have also established continuing residence in the country for five years prior to the application.
The application itself roughly spans about 10 pages. It starts by requesting basic information (name, date of birth, etc.) and the moves into questions about eligibility and background information, such as names of parents and other family members and whether or not they are citizens. Applicants must consent to a criminal background check and answer questions that give details that might be useful during the search. They must also provide all previous addresses, both in the U.S. and in the applicant's home country. The U.S. citizenship application also requests information on employment history as well as an accounting of all foreign and domestic travel over a period of five years. It then delves into marital history and asks for information on dependents.
The application then goes into information on any affiliations, with a focus on keeping individuals out of the United States that have previous affiliation with communist or terrorist groups, as well as those that associate with radical factions. There are several places towards the end of the application where the applicant must sign before finishing it up. Much of the form is self-explanatory and asks questions that the applicant should be able to answer, as it relates to personal background and history.
There are other steps in the citizenship process, but this is one of the key components and without the submission of the citizenship application, an applicant cannot move forward in the process to gain citizenship.