Who We Are Helping
The United States is renowned worldwide as the land of opportunity. People come from all over the world with dreams of achieving a better life for themselves and their families, laying down new roots and calling this great nation home. Their love for the opportunities and promise of America and their aspirations for its future strengthen the fabric of our nation. Our country’s commitment to integrating the entrepreneurship, diversity and passion of new Americans is a measure of our greatness as a country. When new Americans gain the rights, freedoms and responsibilities of citizenship, they contribute more fully to the vitality of our communities and our democracy as a whole.
Attaining citizenship is a journey. You have to earn it. But for too many citizenship hopefuls, that journey is much harder than it should be. Many people who live, work, create jobs and pay taxes in this country are eligible for citizenship, yet only about eight percent of them became naturalized last year. The process is complex and can take up to two years. Lack of knowledge about how the process works, compounded by costly legal fees, can put the dream out of reach.
WHO CAN LEGALLY ATTAIN CITIZENSHIP?
Individuals must meet the following requirements to be eligible for citizenship:
- Must be at least 18 years old
- Must have authorization to live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis (informally known as a green card) for at least five years
- Must have continuous residence in the U.S. for at least five years (or three years, if married to a United States citizen)
- Must be able to read, write and speak basic English
- Must have a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of U.S. history and government
- Must be a person of good moral character
- Must be attached to the principles of the United States Constitution
Find more information about the path to citizenship here.
WHAT ARE THE BARRIERS FOR ASPIRING NEW CITIZENS?
Every person who can legally attain U.S. citizenship should have the opportunity to earn it. However, a number of obstacles prevent the majority of eligible residents from pursuing citizenship, including:
- High costs associated with the application process, including the application fee, which has increased from $35 in 1983 to $680 today.
- Lack of knowledge of the process and eligibility requirements
- Lack of access to English and civics classes
- Unscrupulous attorneys or false notaries who take advantage of individuals seeking assistance
Read more about the barriers for aspiring citizens, “Becoming a Citizen: It’s Not as Easy as You Think”
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS, RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF CITIZENSHIP?
There are significant social, economic, and civic benefits of naturalization for individuals, their communities and the nation.
Economic: Naturalization increases individual spending power by up to 15 percent.
Civics: Naturalized individuals contribute more to society, including serving on juries and in the U.S. military.
Employment: New Americans have greater access to education and employment opportunities.
Stability: Naturalization leads to more stable and cohesive families.
There are also many rights and responsibilities that come with the privilege of American citizenship that strengthen the fabric of our great nation. Learn more here.