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Things to Consider Before Becoming a US Citizen

06th May 2011
By Paul Anderson in Immigration Law
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Citizenship is the highest status in the US and hence immigration laws strictly limit the number of per-sons becoming a US citizen. Not everyone who wants to become a US citizen qualifies for the same. US citizenship, whether it's gained by birth, through naturalization, or through US citizen parents, is the highest benefit available under US immigration laws. However, many people do not realize the rights, and many green card holders ruin their chances of becoming US citizens simply because they do not know what's required or because they are not aware of the benefits of being a US citizen. Before applying for citizenship, you should have spent some time as a green card holder.

Let us take a look at the possible disadvantages of applying for citizenship. Not because the negatives over-weigh the positives, but just to know the pitfalls before launching straight into filling the application and also to tread you in the right path.

If you got your green card fraudulently and apply for citizenship, chances of getting deported are in-deed very high. Another factor is that certain countries do not allow dual citizenship. The law in US about dual citizenship is pretty vague as doesn't state clearly whether it is allows or not. Having a US passport is risky in some countries.

Advantages of Becoming a US Citizen

After becoming a US citizen, you can vote in federal elections, bring your dear ones to the US, travel anywhere with a US passport and also get citizenship for your children born abroad. You can also serve on a jury and become eligible for federal jobs. In addition to these, you become eligible for federal grants and scholarships.

To become a citizen, or to be naturalized, you should meet certain requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Have lived in the US as a permanent resident for at least 5 years.
- Be of good moral character and loyal to the US.
- Be able to read, write, speak and understand basic English.
- Have basic knowledge and understanding of the US history and the Constitution.
- Be willing to take an oath of allegiance to the US.

Based on the age of the applicants or medically proved physical or mental impairment where this disability affects their ability to learn English and civics, waivers from the citizenship test are available. Under these circumstances, you should file Form N-648 requesting an exception and this should be filed along with your N-400 application.

The Reasons Why You Could Be Barred From Obtaining Citizenship?
You should consult an immigration attorney in any of the following situations: You
- Have been convicted of a crime.
- Have ever lied to an immigration officer, consular or government official.
- Married solely to obtain residency status.
- Have been absent from the US for long periods of time, especially periods over one year since becoming a lawful permanent resident (LPR).
- Have ever been arrested.
- Failed to file an income tax return for any year since becoming a LPR.
- Owe child support.
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