Every 79 seconds, an immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, according to this factsheet. There’s reason for this statistic, and it’s that becoming one means achieving a much more secure status than holding a Green Card or Visa. The catch is that the road to naturalization, or citizenship for those born outside of the country, involves a lengthy and arduous process in order to even be considered for naturalization. Not to mention, once the waiting period has passed, an immigrant still has to go through many layers of approval and scrutiny by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services before being awarded a naturalization certificate. So far, some of the current criteria for becoming eligible for citizenship include being 18 years or older (with one exception), and being “a person of good moral character”, among others. Keep reading to learn more surprising things about naturalization.

Applicants must show “good moral character” for at least five years.

For an unmarried immigrant who wishes to become a naturalized citizen, they must live in the U.S. for at least five years (also called the statutory period) to even be considered for the process. During this time, they may not leave the country for more than 18 months. What’s more, they must show “good moral character”, which is loosely defined by the U.S. government as someone who “measures up to the standards of average citizens of the community in which the applicant resides.” There are objective standards that are associated with this label, which include having a clean criminal record and having no involvement with controversial groups or organizations.

Foreign-born immigrants under 18 can be awarded citizenship.

Though the standard criterion for applying for naturalization is that the applicant must be over the age of 18 (this is called the age of majority), there is an exception to this rule. As long as one of the applicant’s parents or guardians is a natural born or naturalized citizen and completes the application on their behalf, they may be considered for citizenship. They must also be actively living under the custody of said parent or guardian. This process is usually reserved for those who wish to attend college as a citizen but have not yet reached the age of majority.

A naturalized citizenship can be revoked.

The process is called denaturalization, and it can happen under specific conditions: through falsification of paperwork or background details, refusing to testify before congress, belonging to a member of a “subversive” group (though this can be defined in any way the U.S. government sees fit), or undergoing a dishonorable military discharge. Denaturalization is a serious matter and can put someone at risk for deportation, but thankfully the occurrence of such a process is rare and can be easily avoided by complying with government procedures. Keep in mind that newly inducted citizens will gain constitutional rights such as protesting and bearing arms, so performing these actions should not put them at risk for losing their citizenship.

The road to becoming a U.S. citizen can be difficult and lengthy, but the end result is rewarding. To know more about the process, contact us today!