Dyanna Cruz, Amber Delgado Savannah Washington

Where one needs to go to become a citizen

You can become an U.S. citizen by birth, through a process called "naturalization," through "derivative citizenship," or through "acquired citizenship." A process where you show Immigration – the government agency that regulates questions of citizenship -- that you meet certain legal requirements for becoming a U.S. citizen is called "naturalization".

Requirements for becoming a citizen

For a green card holder of at least 5 years the requirements are
  • Be 18 or older at the time of filing
  • Be a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the Form N-400, Application For Naturalization
  • Have lived within the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing the application
  • Have continuous residence in the United States as a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
  • Be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
  • Reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization up to the time of naturalization
  • Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (civics).
  • Be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law
  • Citizenship ceremony

    You will take the Oath of Citizenship and get your citizenship certificate there. We will send you a notice telling you to attend a ceremony and take the oath, if you meet all of the conditions to: become a Citizen of the United States.

    Rights you gain as a new citizen

    • Freedom to express yourself.

    • Freedom to worship as you wish.

    • Right to a prompt, fair trial by jury.

    • Right to vote in elections for public officials.

    • Right to apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship.

    • Right to run for elected office

    • Freedom to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

    Responsibilities you gain as a new citizen

  • Support and defend the Constitution.

  • Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.

  • Participate in the democratic process.

  • Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.

  • Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.

  • Participate in your local community.

  • Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.

  • Serve on a jury when called upon.

  • Defend the country if the need should arise.

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    Illegal Immigrant Turned Brain Surgeon

    The hot sun seared his skin as Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa (pictured left) bent in the field to pick tomatoes. It was work few people would do for a pittance every week – and most of his fellow workers on this 4000 hectare farm were, like Quiñones, illegal immigrants. It was a grim existence: he lived in a decrepit caravan in the middle of a field. One day the farm owner’s son came by. "He looked at us like we were less than dirt," recalls Quiñones. Other workers were only too happy to be disdained by wealthy citizens who could have them deported, but not Quiñones. He carried an English dictionary in his pocket and studied it every day. It had been a year since Quiñones, a Mexican, jumped the fence in Calexico, California. His cousin was supposed to be waiting for him on the other side. Instead he was met by the US Border Patrol. Half an hour later, Quiñones was back in Mexico. Guessing that the border police would never expect the same man to cross in the same spot on the same night, he went over the fence again. This time, his cousin was there. Quiñones hopped into his car and the two roared off into the night. It was January 2, 1987, Quiñones’s 19th birthday. He made it to the US and later became a brain surgeon.
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