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The Path to American Citizenship

The path to American citizenship can be a long process, especially if you do not immediately qualify for permanent residency. Gaining permanent residency involves obtaining a permanent residency card, commonly called a "Green Card," which allows the person to live and work unrestricted in America.

Obtaining permanent residency is a 3 step process:

Even if the USCIS approves your immigrant petition, it may mean you do not receive your immigrant number immediately. This is due to the fact that the amount of immigrant visa numbers made available each year does not meet the demand for permanent residency.

Another means of obtaining permanent residency, or a green card, is through the Diversity Lottery. This is an annual lottery-style selection process run by the State Department's National Visa Centre where qualifying entrants are selected from the lottery pool and invited to apply for permanent residence.


A permanent resident is not automatically considered to be an American citizen. There are a number of requirements which must be met before a permanent resident can change their status to that of a citizen.

To obtain citizenship, applicants must:

The spouse of an American citizen who has resided in America as a lawful permanent resident may apply for citizenship after 3 years if they are able to meet all physical presence and residence requirements.