Naturalization Process

& Illegal vs. Legal Aliens

The Process

Several million noncitizens, or aliens, live in the United States.

More than half a million immigrants - people who move permanently to a new country - gain American citizenship each year.

Must first sign a statement saying that they want to become a United States citizen.

The next comes after living in the United States at least five years.

During this time, many immigrants take special classes to prepare for citizenship.

If they are at least 18 years old and have lived for at least 3 months in the state where they seek naturalization, they may file an application for citizenship.

After the paperwork is checked, the alien has an interview with a USCIS official.

The applicant must also take a citizenship exam that consists of questions about reading, writing, and speaking English and basic facts about the History and government of the United States.

Afterward the decision is made.

If the application is granted, the final step in naturalization is attending a ceremony and pledging an oath of allegiance. After they swear to obey all laws they sign a document and the deal is done. If he or she has children under 18 they become citizens too.

Ways To Lose Citizenship

-The U.S. immigration authorities revoke the person’s naturalized citizenship.

-The person does something that falls under the U.S.’s “loss of nationality” statute.

-Becoming a naturalized citizen of another country after age 18.

-Joining the military of a foreign state.

-Joining the government of a foreign state.

-Performing some act to intentionally give up citizenship.

-Committing treason or other acts against the U.S. government.

Illegal vs. Legal Aliens

Comparing & Contrasting

Despite immigration limits, approximately 12 million aliens are living in the United States illegally. A few enter the country as temporary visitors but never leave. Others risk arrest by illegally crossing our borders with Mexico and Canada. Other illegal aliens are foreigners who have stayed in the United States after their legal permits expired.

United States law classifies aliens into different categories. A resident alien is a person from a foreign country who has established permanent residence in the United States. Resident aliens may stay in the United States as long as they wish without becoming American citizens. A nonresident alien is a person from a foreign country who expects to stay in the United States for a short, specified period.

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