In most cases, you will need a green card first in order to apply for citizenship. Once you have secured a green, and once you have been a lawful permanent resident for five years, you can generally apply for US citizenship. If you have married a US citizen, you may only need to wait three years before applying for citizenship. Unless you served in the US armed forces, however, a green card is necessary before you become a US citizen.
Luckily, there are many ways to get a green card so that you can become a US citizen. For example, if you are related to a US citizen and your family is willing to sponsor you, you can apply for a green card through family sponsorship. If you have substantial assets, you can become a permanent resident by investing in the US and creating US jobs. Alternatively, you can apply for the green card diversity lottery to win a green card. If you do not have family in the US, you can also apply for work in the US and get a green card through employment sponsorship.
Getting a green card may take months or years. Once you get your green card, however, you will be a permanent resident of the US, with many benefits. For example, with a green card you will be eligible to live and work permanently in the US. You will also be able to sponsor immediate relatives and will be able to travel to and from the US.
However, you may still wish to apply citizenship. This is because US citizenship gives you many benefits that you do not enjoy with a green card alone. For example, with US citizenship, you enjoy the right to vote and run for office. As a citizen, you can also become a government employee, travel anywhere in the world with a US passport, and sponsor family members to become permanent residents or citizens.
If you are getting your green card in order to become a US citizen, you need to think carefully about your citizenship goals. Just because you are a permanent green card holder, that does not mean you will qualify to become a citizen. If your aim is US citizenship, make sure that you pay your taxes on time and obey all the laws of the US. Part of the requirement of becoming a US citizen is to have a “good moral character” and you can show this by living well as a green card holder. In addition, you need to be aware that long-term absences from the US can affect your citizenship application as well. While having a green card allows you to travel outside the US freely, you need to ensure that you establish residency in the US without longer absences. As well, you will want to ensure that you remain in one state for some time before you file for citizenship. If there is anything in your past that may affect your ability to become a US citizen, you will want to consult with a qualified US immigration attorney before applying for citizenship.