Many people who come to the United States and decide to live here permanently eventually seek citizenship. Becoming a U.S. citizen means you can vote, travel internationally and work with the government to have your family come to the country, if needed.
If you’re considering taking this major step, it’s important to be aware of the standard qualifications for American citizenship:
- Established permanent residency: To apply for citizenship, you must already be a permanent resident of the United States. You must have a green card and have lived within the country for a minimum of five years. Temporary residence — such as a student visa — will not count toward the five-year residency requirement.
- Proven physical presence: When applying for citizenship, you’ll need to prove that you lived in the state of Florida for a minimum of three months. Additionally, the U.S. government will want to see that you spent the vast majority of the last five years in the country and did not travel abroad for an extensive period of time.
- Skills in English: Although the United States has no official language, those who wish to become citizens must take and pass a test that proves they have adequate skills in English. The test will require you to demonstrate written and verbal language skills. There are some exceptions for this requirement if the applicant is elderly or disabled.
- Country knowledge and allegiance: In addition to taking an English test, applicants will also need to prove through an exam that they are knowledgeable about U.S. history and how the country’s government works. If this test is passed, applicants must then swear they will uphold the nation’s laws.
Although many people apply for citizenship each year, the process can be complex. If you or your loved one is looking to become a U.S. citizen, consult a knowledgeable Tampa Bay immigration attorney with the Law Office of K. Dean Kantaras.