Citizenship in the United States is a privilege that can be obtained in essentially two ways. The most common way to become a citizen is to be born within a state of the nation, or to be the offspring of one or more biological parents who were US citizens at the time. There is also a process known as naturalization that can help anyone who wishes to become a United States citizen to achieve that goal.
There are people born in many countries around the world who have sought the privilege of living and working in the United States as a full-fledged US citizen. To that end, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is charged with overseeing the process that allows individuals to apply for and eventually achieve full citizenship in the nation. The USCIS sets specific standards that must be met in order to qualify for the privilege of being a citizen.
People who want to become a US citizen must establish a period of continuous residence in the country. This can be accomplished by obtaining a sponsorship from a person who is currently a citizen, getting a job, and establishing a place of residence with the aid of a work visa. Generally, it is necessary to establish this residence within a USCIS district and make a formal application in order for the process to be properly recorded and monitored.
Anyone seeking citizenship must be able to speak, read, and write in English. This does not mean the person must be completely fluent with the language, but the level of comprehension must be sufficient to be able to understand US laws, read public signs, and be able to read and assimilate information in public documents.
The individual seeking to become a United States citizen must have a working knowledge of the history and government structure of the United States. This will include knowledge and acceptance of the principles of the US Constitution and other founding documents. It is also expected that any citizenship applicant will demonstrate a favorable disposition toward the country in general.
The USCIS conducts interviews on a daily basis, during the evening hours of the week and posted hours on weekends. Resources to help applicants comply with the regulations are made available, and many municipalities and other local organizations also provide support in the form of English and history courses that are designed to help people to meet the qualifications. When the applicant is prepared, he or she may take an exam and undergo the final round of interviews. If the applicant is found to meet all the qualifications outlined by Immigration Services, he or she may be formally granted the status of United States citizen in a ceremony conducted under the auspices of the USCIS.