How To Get US Citizenship: An Explanation of the Process and Terminology

When considering how to get US citizenship, an individual must understand the processes involved and how to best approach the situation to receive the desired results. The benefits of becoming a citizen of the U.S. are numerous. For instance, a person can enjoy the right to vote, have the right to run for public office, join the U.S. military, and receive the right to travel and live abroad without losing citizenship status. While at first the process may seem overwhelming, to many the benefits outweigh the possible pitfalls involved in applying for citizenship.

Am I Eligible to Apply?

The first step is to determine whether or not you are eligible for citizenship. The conditions to which you must comply are as follows:

  • You must have permanently resided in the U.S.
  • You must have lived in the U.S for 5 years consecutively in lawful permanent resident status, or for 3 years if you obtained your residency through marriage to a US Citizen (additional exceptions apply to those who have served in the military on active duty as non-citizens).
  • You must prove that you are a person of good moral character (you are not a criminal and uphold the standards or moral character held by the U.S.).
  • You must prove you know English and have an understanding of American history and politics. This knowledge will be assessed upon successful completion of USCIS exam at a scheduled interview.

Massachusetts Entrepreneur in Residence Program

The goal of the “Global Entrepreneur in Residence Program” is to allow more high-skilled international students to stay in Massachusetts upon graduation if they are growing or starting a business.

H-1B Visas Needed
Currently, international students’ visas expire when they graduate. In order to stay in the U.S. they must find an employer willing to sponsor their H-1B visa application. However, there are only a limited number of H-1B visas available each year and the application process is challenging for emerging entrepreneurs. Gov. Patrick asserts the U.S., and specifically Massachusetts, is losing valuable talent when these students are educated here then go to other countries to launch their businesses.

The H-1B Visa Petition Process

In general terms, an H-1B visa applies to individuals who are considered specialists in their field of expertise. Only 65,000 of these visas are allowed by the U.S. each year for bachelor’s degree candidates, plus an additional 20,000 for master’s degree candidates; therefore, if a Massachusetts company would like a foreign specialist to work at its company in the U.S., the best plan of action is to hire immigration attorneys familiar with the H-1B Visa petition process.

In order to apply, the candidate must have attained a college bachelor’s degree within the U.S. or the foreign academic equivalent. The degree must be specific to the job that the foreign specialist will be hired for by the U.S. based company.

There are other requirements for the H-1B visa that you should discuss with a qualified immigration attorney. If the candidate meets all these requirements the attorney will then file a Labor Condition Application and a Form I-129 with USCIS with supporting documentation. The H-1B petition process can be used for both those inside and outside of the United States.