In the United States, immigrants can become citizens via a process called Naturalization. In most cases, to naturalize, an applicant must be over age 18, have a Green Card, and meet other eligibility requirements.
Aspiring immigrants to the US who may qualify for a green card are divided into several categories. These categories have an effect on how the immigrant should apply for his/her Green Card (Permanent Resident Card), and also how long it takes to complete the application process. The proper category is determined by the immigrant's situation.
For the 1st category of immigrants, the US government does not limit the number of Green Cards that it grants each year. Immigrants in this category are:
- Immediate relatives of a US citizen. An immediate relative is a husband, wife, widow, parent, or unmarried child (under age 21).
- US Permanent Residents who are returning back to the US after more than one year abroad.
For the 2nd category, the US government limits the number of Green Cards that it grants each year. These immigrants are:
First Preference: All other Unmarried children of US citizens, (up to 23,400 per year)
Second Preference: Husbands, wives and children of lawful Permanent Residents (up to 114,200)
Third Preference: Married children of US citizens, and their husbands/wives and children (up to 23,400)
Fourth Preference: Brothers/sisters of US citizens (over age 21), and their husbands/wives and children (up to 65,000)
Priority Workers: Workers with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers; and certain multinational executives and managers (up to 40,040)
Members of the Professions: Professionals who hold advanced degrees, and workers with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business (up to 40,040)
Professionals, Skilled Workers, and Unskilled Workers: Professionals holding baccalaureate degrees, skilled workers with at least two years of experience, and other workers whose skills are in short supply in the US (up to 40,040)
Special Immigrants: Certain religious workers, religious ministers, certain employees of international organizations (and their immediate families), and certain current and former US government employees (up to 9,940)
Investors: Persons who create employment for at least 10 unrelated people by investing capital (minimum $500,000 to $1,000,000) in a new commercial enterprise in the US (up to 9,940) may qualify for an EB5 green card for themselves and their family.
Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery (Green Card Lottery): Registered applicants selected at random from countries that have low rates of immigration to the US; applicants must register with the State Department each year (up to 55,000 per year)
Below are some Naturalization products and services examined by the American Legal Review:
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