The majority of United States citizens are natural-born citizens. Their parents are citizens or they were born in the country. No further proof is necessary for them to enjoy all the benefits that come with citizenship.
For those born in other countries, obtaining citizenship is often a struggle. You need a visa to legally enter the country. You then need to get a green card if you want to stay permanently. If you want to be a full-fledged citizen with the right to vote and run for political office, naturalization is the process of becoming a citizen when you were not born one.
What are the rules for those who want to become naturalized citizens?
You need to be 18 years of age
Minor children do not have their full rights as residents of the United States, and they cannot make life-altering legal decisions on their own behalf in most cases. Regardless of how responsible you are and how long you have been in the country, you typically cannot apply for naturalization until you are at least 18 years old.
You need to live in the country for years
At the absolute minimum, you need to have stayed in the United States for at least three consecutive years prior to applying for naturalization. Most people need to have lived in the country for five years, but those married to a United States citizen and who have not left the country for more than 18 months in the last three years may qualify for naturalization. Generally, those who apply need to have lived in the country for five years and cannot have been out of the country for more than 30 months total.
You need to speak English and understand history
You will actually have to complete both English language and Civics tests in order to become a naturalized citizen. You will also have to attest to the fact that you are of good moral character. Background checks are a major part of the naturalization process. You will also need to attend an interview that will include the tests necessary to prove that you qualify.
Naturalization also requires paperwork and an understanding of your rights. Having the right professional support during the naturalization process will make it easier for you to become a United States citizen.