How Does Someone Become an American Citizen?

How Does Someone Become an American Citizen?

( – Oftentimes, somebody born overseas finds themselves wanting to become citizens of the United States — it could be for a job, love, or simply to find opportunities not available in their homeland. Fortunately for them, it’s possible to make that dream come true. Let’s explore some of the available methods.


In 2012, then-President Barack Obama signed an executive order that led to the creation of a program officially titled Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), more colloquially known as The Dream Act. The designated purpose of the program was to provide options for technically illegal aliens who work here by choice.

This act applies to a limited group consisting of children, under the age of 16, who were brought over by their parents and could not make the decision for themselves. The guidelines require the person to be between the ages of 15 and 31 as of June 15 of that year and they to be physically present in the country on that same date. There are many more specific requirements, but this is the first threshold of eligibility.


This is the path the overwhelmingly vast majority of the immigrant population takes to obtain their citizenship. It includes numerous criteria that one must complete to reach that goal, some of which are, in brief:

  • Be living in the country with a Legal Permanent Resident (aka Green) Card for a period of five years. Those applying as the spouse of a citizen only need three years.
  • Must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Must be able to read, write, and speak basic English.
  • Take and pass the US Naturalization Test and undergo a personal interview with an immigration official.

This should in no way be considered an exhaustive explanation of the process, but rather just a brief overview of the most basic steps. A person who has been granted asylum in the country due to things like political persecution, and those who have been declared refugees must apply for a Green Card within one year of their arrival date if they desire to become legal citizens.

These regulations serve a twofold purpose. First, to give people around the world place to come to fulfill their hopes of building a successful life regardless of religion or race. Second, it allows the government to ensure that the people coming into the country are not subversives who wish to do her harm.

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