August 13, 2020
Becoming a citizen of the United States is truly a dream to live for. Throughout the centuries, millions of people have come to the U.S. in search of a better life, yet, not everybody got to become an American citizen. That is so mainly due to the volume of people going to the States every year to stay there.
With over 1 million people willing to live in the country taking their first steps towards this path, the waiting lines become longer and longer. That’s because only up to about 500,000 are allowed to immigrate to the U.S. every year, according to the American legislation. So, how long does it take to become a U.S. citizen? Well, that largely depends on a number of factors, such as relatives living in the United States, your reason to immigrate, and even your country of origin. Let’s take a look at all of them and approximate how long it might take to become a citizen of the U.S.
With a vast number of people willing to immigrate to the United States, the system is currently based on wait lines, which depend on various factors, thus, defining such lines and their lengths. This in turn defines the waiting time for the immigrants. While there are about 350,000 to 480,000 relatives and about 140,000 workers are allowed to become citizens in the United States every year, the number of applicants is often many times higher, reaching over 1 million people per year.
So, how long does it take to become a legal immigrant? That mostly depends on what is implied by immigration, what country are you from, and why you want to immigrate. In case if by immigrating, you mean getting the employment visa and getting the job in the U.S., then such a process with largely depend on your job and housing search time. The document itself takes about 3 to 5 weeks to issue.
Yet, if you’re talking about the permanent residence, that’s a totally different case. In order to get the U.S. Green Card, which is the permanent residence document, it might take up to 10 years, depending on the circumstance and your country of origin. The Green Card can be gotten on the basis of the family relations, marriage, employment, and the Diversity Lottery. The latter is a lottery, in which the applicants have a chance to in a U.S. Green Card. The applications for Diversity Lottery are processed within 7 months. Yet, on average the process takes between 7 months and 3 years.
Now, how long does it take to legally immigrate to the U.S. and become the citizen? In order to respond to this question, you do not have to go far and only apply simple mathematics. With the Green Card being issued up to 10 years, becoming a citizen certainly includes this time. In addition, in order to become a citizen of the U.S., you have to live in the country for quite some time, be employed and self-sufficient financially, have a good moral character, speak English well, and be familiar with American history at least a little bit.
While all of this doesn’t seem like long, it, in fact, takes some time and a lot of effort to achieve all the required qualities. But most importantly, how long do you have to live in the U.S. to be a citizen? The answer would not really depend on anything as the term of continuous residency (that is, not leaving U.S. territory for longer than 6 months) is standardized. You have to live for at least 5 years in the U.S. to be able to apply for citizenship.
So, in total, you might have to wait between 6 to 15 years at least to become the United States citizen. However, in some cases, this wait might be much longer. As such, some Filipino and Mexican applicants wait for their applications to be reviewed since 1994. What else does affect the waiting time?
As we mentioned before, such factors as immediate relatives residing or being the citizens of the U.S., other family preferences, employment preferences, and the origin country all affect your potential waiting time. Each of the factors’ influence is manifested in the caps set by the United States government, which might vary from year to year. Overall, immigration to the U.S.A. is affected by the aforementioned factors in the following way:
This is the biggest priority group and includes spouses of U.S. citizens, children of U.S. citizens under 21 years of age, and the parents of U.S. citizens. These categories have no yearly caps and an unlimited number of immediate relatives can become the United States citizens per year. The waiting time for them ends just as all the paperwork gets done.
There are five such preferences, which include unmarried children of the U.S. citizens (1st preference), spouses and unmarried children of U.S. Green Card holders (2nd preference), married children of the U.S. citizens (3rd preference), and the siblings of the adult U.S. citizens (4th preference). The 5th preference includes all other relatives. Each of the preferences has its own caps, which range between 23,400 and 114,000 people per annum.
Just as with the family preferences, immigration rules of the U.S.A divide workers into 5 categories. Those include:
Finally, the country of origin also largely affects the waiting time. As such, some of the countries have a very low priority when it comes to processing the applications as a huge number of citizens of those countries have applied. Those countries are Mexico, China, India, and the Philippines. The waiting time for the citizens of these can be at least twice as long.
Depending on the factors described above, the waiting time might, thus, stretch up to 25 years of simply waiting for your application to get the next in line to be reviewed. The main idea here is to be patient make sure that all your documents are neatly prepared in order to avoid any unnecessary additional delays. Note that in case if there are any issues with the documents, the USCIS, the agency responsible for immigration in the U.S., will send them back and you’ll have to resubmit them, which takes additional time. Yet, all the trouble mentioned above is often worth it as when you become a U.S. citizen, your life largely changes for the better in most cases.
U.S.A. and immigration are often such a delicate matter specifically because of the rights and freedoms that the American state provides to its citizens. Being a U.S. citizen grants one quite a lot of opportunities to take, some of which are extremely beneficial. Here are only a few of them:
So, apparently, the benefit of becoming a U.S. citizen are numerous and are worth all the wait and effort. Yet, while we talked a lot about the wait, we haven’t mentioned the effort yet. So, what are the steps of applying for U.S. citizenship and how are they made?
After you have come to the U.S., became employed, and lived there for some time, you are eligible to get your Green Card. After you have done that, you can apply for the United States citizenship status. Essentially, there are only 4 basic stages to go through to become American.
While immigrating to the U.S. and becoming a citizen doesn’t seem like an easy fit at all, it is totally worth it. With all the freedoms and rights you get, becoming a U.S. citizen is something worth pursuing indeed. With that being said, there is a number of opportunities for that in the modern world. You can even try your luck and apply for the immigration lottery and become an eligible permanent resident within up to a year. This will totally change your life. Yet, don’t forget that you might still need the immigration translation services in order to make sure that all your documents are in proper condition and order.
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