Immigration law, especially these days while terms like illegal immigrants and refugees and let’s build a wall are being thrown around, can be a very complicated area of practice and a difficult process to endure for any family. There remain many ways to secure citizenship in the United States, even coming into California, but in order to have a legitimate claim, there are many hoops that need to be jumped through, documents that need to be signed, paperwork that needs to be approved, etc. In other words, obtaining citizenship can be a long and grueling process.
But, it can be done.
There are many subsets of immigration law that can help you, a hopeful immigrant in a specific social, financial or familial condition, obtain citizenship. It is important to note that for ordinary residents or visa holders, once you obtain a green card, you must wait five years before applying for US citizenship. The following are the most common immigration conditions and the requirements necessary in order to successfully acquire your United States green card, to start your path to citizenship.
Recent College Graduates & Immigration
International students make up a large portion of California’s college student population. After spending at least 4 years in the country and adapting to the culture and lifestyle (and of course Southern California weather), many students wish to stay and seek employment in the States. Because it is such a common immigration request, it is a very difficult feat to actually obtain a green card as a recent graduate without employment sponsorship. Further, many employers avoid hiring international employees as not to deal with immigration complications, costs, and risks. However, there are a few ways you can secure your citizenship and help your chances of being employed and continuing the life you have built here.
- Your relative is a US citizen: If you have a relative who is already a United States citizen, you may be able to successfully apply for a green card. However, your level of relation does matter, and must be by blood. Immediate relatives (unmarried children under 21, parents whose children are 21 or older, or spouses) have the best odds of success in these cases, as the further the bloodline falls, the less urgency there is to unite the members of the family. There may be exceptions made in family tragedies and similar circumstances, but this is not a guarantee.
- Your employer wants to sponsor you: If you have been offered a position by an employer in the United States who cannot find a U.S. citizen who is similarly qualified to fill the position, you have a chance of qualifying for a green card by sponsorship. This is a less favorable option to applying through an immediate relative, but if an employer is willing to do the work of sponsorship, you may have a good chance applying under this option.
- You have an exceptional ability: The United States is always interested in offering a green card to candidates who can positively affect the infrastructure or economics of the country. Investors, religious workers, or students with advanced degrees often fall under this category.
US Citizenship through Parents
Typically, acquiring citizenship through parents is one of the simpler areas of immigration laws. Any child under the age of 18 born to a parent who is a US citizen, even if born outside of the US (according to today’s laws), can derive citizenship by default. However, stipulations and complications may occur depending on your circumstances. Because of the tight hold California has on immigration at the moment and the multiple amendments that Congress has made to this law, more obstacles may need to be avoided now, but if your parents are citizens, you could be one as well.
- If you were born outside of the US: you may acquire citizenship through your parents or grandparents who are citizens. You actually may already be a citizen and just have to submit paperwork proving so. The only stipulation that may come in your way is if one of your parents was not a citizen at the time of your birth, due to laws that have been amended several times.
- If your parent naturalizes or becomes a US citizen: you may automatically derive citizenship as well. This requires that you are under the age of 18 and living with your parents, or else obtaining the proper documentation becomes more complicated.
- If your grandparents are US citizens: you may be able to apply for citizenship through them as immediate relatives; however, these cases are not prioritized before those of children whose parents are citizens.
If you are a lawful permanent resident of the United States and a current or former member of the military or National Guard, you are able to apply for citizenship with an expedited process and several exceptions. The country does recognize the importance of those who work to protect us, and applying for citizenship as a member of any part of the military will earn you special treatment in the eyes of immigration. If you have been on active or reserve duty with the US military service, you must keep in mind the following exceptions and rules:
- You may have to wait five years after holding a green card to apply for citizenship if you served honorably; you may apply immediately
- Military personnel who have been honorably discharged must apply for citizenship within 6 months of this discharge or else the five-year rule applies in the same way it does to other civilians.
- Members of the Armed Forces, their spouses and children are can be eligible for citizenship or green card because of their service.
- If you enlist during a war, you can be immediately eligible for citizenship and will not be judged in the same way regarding the length of time holding your green card or age as other residents.
History Test & Other Requirements
During the process of citizen application, you are required to take a test about United States history. Your study guide will include 100 questions and answers, of which you will be asked 10 orally during your official exam. To pass, you must answer 6 of 10 questions correctly. You will also be required to pass an English exam to ensure you are proficient in English.
Finding the Help You Need
Before attempting to acquire citizenship on your own, it is important to seek legal counsel to ensure your best results. It is difficult to file for citizenship and is a lengthy process that you want to be done right the first time. If you are seeking citizenship and would like the help of a trusted lawyer to help you win your case, call the Law Offices of Alisha A. Wood to speak with one of our experienced professionals about your citizenship appeal: (619) 867-0755.