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Path to U.S. citizenship is often complicated and full of roadblocks

According to the Migration Policy Institute roughly 25 percent of the U.S. population are "first or second generation" immigrants. As countries to the south and across the Atlantic continue to be plagued by economic hardships, violence and political and religious conflicts; it's likely that the number of people attempting to immigrate, both legally and illegally, to the U.S. will continue to increase.

While the issue and associated problems of illegal immigration are widely publicized, less so are the issues facing the millions of immigrants who attempt to navigate the U.S. immigration process legally to become naturalized U.S. citizens.

According to CNN, annually, an average of 7,000 people become naturalized U.S. citizens. For most, the process to legal U.S. citizenship is a long, complicated and frustrating one. Depending on an individual's situation, there are a few different paths to U.S. citizenship. For example, in cases where one of a child's parents is a U.S. citizen, the child is also considered a U.S. citizen regardless of where he or she was born. Additionally, even if a child's parents are unauthorized immigrants, if born in the U.S., he or she is considered a U.S. citizen.

For an adult who wishes to become a U.S. citizen, the process typically requires the status of being a permanent resident. In order to be considered a permanent resident an individual must have a valid green card and live in the U.S. for at least five years. Additionally an individual must be at least age 18, have been physically in the U.S. "for at least 30 months out of the five years," be of "good moral character" and be able to read, write and speak English. 

However, even individuals who fulfill these requirements aren't guaranteed U.S. citizenship. There may be many roadblocks along the way including green card problems, denied applications and threats of deportation. For these reasons, an individual who has the goal of becoming a U.S. citizen is encouraged to seek the advice and help of an attorney who handles immigration matters.

Source: USCIS.gov, "Path to U.S. Citizenship," Oct. 5, 2015

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