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How to Get a US Green Card and Citizenship: The Ultimate Guide

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This article discusses how to get a US green card, with information on requirements, the necessary documents and the process involved.

Although we’re often known for railing against the frustrating constraints of the US tax system and its citizenship-based taxation model, for millions of people around the world, America remains as alluring as ever.

How to Get a Green Card

A Green Card is the name given to a United States permanent residence permit and provides the following functions:

  • Awards you official immigration status in the United States
  • Qualifies you for specific rights and responsibilities, including the right to live and work in the US, plus the obligation to file your income tax returns
  • It is a necessary step if you want to naturalize as a U.S. Citizen.

Green Card Eligibility Requirements

You can qualify for a Green Card as a foreign national in numerous ways.

Family Members

You can become a Green Card holder if you are one of the following:

  • Spouse of a U.S. citizen
  • Unmarried child under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen
  • Parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old
  • Unmarried son or daughter of a U.S. citizen who is 21 years old or older
  • Married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen
  • Brother or sister of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old
  • Spouse of a lawful permanent resident
  • Unmarried child under the age of 21 of a lawful permanent resident
  • Unmarried son or daughter of a lawful permanent resident 21 years old or older
  • Fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen
  • Child of a fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen
  • Widow or widower of a U.S. citizen who was married to your U.S. citizen spouse at the time your spouse died
  • Abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Abused child (unmarried and under 21 years old) of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Abused parent of a U.S. citizen.

Employment

You can apply for a Green Card and permanent resident status if you are one of the following:

  • Immigrant worker
  • A physician who consents to work full-time in clinical practice in a designated underserved area for a fixed period
  • Immigrant investor.

Special Immigration

You qualify to become a Green Card holder and permanent resident status if you are:

  • Religious worker
  • Juvenile who requires the protection of a juvenile court because you have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent
  • International broadcaster
  • Retired employee of an eligible international organization such as NATO or are an eligible family member of such an employee.
  • Were born in the United States to a foreign diplomatic officer who was stationed in the U.S. when you were born
  • Were stationed in the United States as a foreign diplomat or high-ranking official and could not return home.

Registry

You may be eligible to apply for a Green Card if you have enjoyed continuous residence in the U.S. since before Jan. 1, 1972.

General Green Card Application Process

The path you must follow to apply for a Green Card will vary depending if you are in or outside the United States. However, here is the general application process applicable to most applicants:

  • Someone usually must file an immigrant petition for you (often referred to as sponsoring or petitioning for you)
  • After the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services approves the immigrant petition and a visa becomes available in your category, you file either a Green Card application with USCIS or a visa application with the U.S. Department of State
  • You attend a biometrics appointment to supply fingerprints, photos, and a signature
  • You are summoned for an interview
  • You receive a yes or no on your application.

How to Become a U.S. Citizen

You’ve got a Green Card and lawful permanent resident status. What next? U.S citizenship, perhaps? If you’re starting to think that way, you’re not alone. Over 750,000 Green Card holders with permanent residence each year apply for U.S. naturalization-based citizenship.

The 10-Step Naturalization Process

1. Determine if you’re already a U.S. citizen

If you’re a U.S. citizen by birth or descent, quit reading. If you’re not a U.S. citizen by birth or descent, skip ahead to the next step.

2. Determine if you’re eligible to become a U.S. citizen

You are eligible for U.S. citizenship if you:

  • Have had a Green Card for at least five years, or at least three years if you’re filing as the spouse of a U.S. citizen
  • Are of good moral character
  • Have never deserted from the U.S. Armed Forces
  • Have never been exempt or discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces for being an alien
  • Are willing to perform military or civilian service
  • Pledge support to the U.S. Constitution
  • Are prepared to take an oath of allegiance to the United States.

3. Fill in Naturalization Application Form N-400

You can access this form online. All citizenship applications will need to include the following supporting documents:

  • Photocopy of both sides of your Green Card
  • A check or money order for the application fee and the biometric services fee (credit card payments are allowed too)
  • If you live outside the US, two identical color photographs, with your name and Alien Registration Number (A-Number) written lightly in pencil on the back of each photo.

4. Submit your completed N-400 and pay the fees

USCIS will send you a receipt notice, and you can follow the progress of the citizenship application process online.

5. Attend a biometrics appointment, if required

USCIS will send an appointment notice that includes the biometrics appointment date, time, and location to relevant applicants.

6. Interview with USCIS

USCIS will set up an interview with you to complete the naturalization process. Remember to bring the appointment notice with you.

7. Receive notification of a decision from USCIS

Granted, if you have proved that you’re eligible for naturalization.

Continued, if you’re required to supply additional proof, fail to provide USCIS with the correct documents, or fail the English and/or civics test the first time.

Denied, if your application demonstrates that you’re not eligible for naturalization.

8. Receive a notice to take the Oath of Allegiance

You may be able to take part in a naturalization ceremony on the same day as your interview.

9. Take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States

You become a U.S. citizen when you take the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony. At this event, you will have to return your Green Card.

10. Fulfill Citizenship Responsibilities

  • Supporting and defending the Constitution
  • Staying abreast of the issues affecting your community
  • Taking part in the democratic process
  • Respecting and obeying federal, state, and local laws
  • Respecting the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others
  • Contributing to your local community
  • Paying income and other taxes honestly and promptly to federal, state, and local authorities
  • Serving on a jury when called upon
  • Defending the country if the need should arise.

Dual Citizenship

Dual citizenship (or dual nationality) allows a person to simultaneously be a citizen of the United States and another country. U.S. law does not require you to select one citizenship or another.

Is a U.S. Citizenship Application Worth Your While?

As you can see, becoming a U.S citizen takes perseverance. For sure, there are immigration benefits.

If USCIS closes the door on your citizenship application, that could be followed by other countries’ immigration departments slamming the door in your face too.

Many U.S. citizens are renouncing their citizenship. They are fed up with paying high taxes. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act is all-encompassing.

We’ll let you decide whether you think getting a Green Card and U.S citizenship suits your needs.

Remember that most embassies have quotas if you’re applying remotely.

Are you looking for a new home with new freedoms and the chance of a new life? At Nomad Capitalist we help entrepreneurs and investors move offshore, legally reduce their taxes and begin fresh new lives overseas. Talk to us today to learn more.

We want to help you go where you’re treated best.

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