Who is an American? American nationality is primarily ascribed to someone through two main principles: jus soli (right of soil) and jus sanguinis (right of blood).
The principle of jus soli, meaning ‘right of the soil,’ is enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Essentially, anyone born within the territorial limits of the United States or its territories, irrespective of the nationality of their parents, is automatically an American national at birth. This includes people born in the 50 states, Washington D.C., and in most cases, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
On the other hand, jus sanguinis or ‘right of blood’ allows for children born to a U.S. citizen parent or parents, whether in the U.S. or abroad, to acquire U.S. nationality. This is subject to certain conditions such as residency requirements for the U.S. citizen parent.
Additionally, individuals not born as U.S. nationals can acquire American nationality through naturalization, which involves meeting several requirements, such as a period of permanent residence, proficiency in English, knowledge of U.S. government and history, and a demonstration of good moral character.
American nationality plays a pivotal role in the cultural, economic, and political fabric of the United States, influencing both domestic and international perspectives.
Want to visit the United States? Here is how to acquire an American Visa
Applying for an American visa generally follows the same process worldwide, though there might be slight variations in certain countries. Here’s the general process:
- Determine the type of visa you need: The type of visa you require will depend on the purpose of your visit. There are two main types of U.S. visas – nonimmigrant visas for temporary visits like tourism, business, work, or studying, and immigrant visas for those who plan to live in the U.S. permanently.
- Complete the online visa application: Fill out the appropriate visa application form. For nonimmigrant visas, this is typically Form DS-160. For immigrant visas, the DS-260 form is used.
- Pay the visa application fee: The visa application fee, also known as the Machine Readable Visa Fee (MRV fee), must be paid. This is non-refundable and the amount depends on the type of visa.
- Schedule your appointment: You’ll need to schedule two appointments. The first is for the Visa Application Center (VAC) to provide biometric information like fingerprints and photos. The second is for the visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate.
- Prepare for your interview: Gather all necessary documents for your interview, which may include passport, application confirmation page, payment receipt, photograph (if required), and any other documents relevant to your purpose of travel (like employment or education documents).
- Attend your visa interview: The final step is to attend your visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate. A consular officer will interview you to determine your eligibility for the visa.
The process might take several weeks or even months, so it is advisable to apply well in advance of your planned departure date.
Please note that these steps could change, so it’s always a good idea to check the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate in your specific country to get the most accurate and updated information. Also, approval is not guaranteed even after all these steps, as the decision is at the discretion of the consular officer.
How to acquire residence permit in the United States
To acquire a residence permit, also known as a Green Card, in the United States, there are several different paths you can take, depending on your circumstances:
- Family-sponsored Green Card: If you are a close relative of a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, you might be eligible to apply for a Green Card. This includes spouses, children, parents, and siblings.
- Employment-based Green Card: You can also apply for a Green Card based on employment. This usually involves having a job offer from a U.S. employer who will sponsor your application. There are also categories for individuals with extraordinary abilities, investors creating new jobs, and certain special categories of jobs.
- Diversity Visa Lottery (Green Card Lottery): The Diversity Visa Lottery is a program that provides up to 55,000 immigrant visas annually to individuals from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the U.S.
- Refugee or Asylee Status: If you have been granted asylum or refugee status in the U.S., you might be eligible to apply for a Green Card.
- Special Immigrant Juveniles or Victims of Abuse, Crime, or Human Trafficking: There are special categories for individuals in these situations that may allow them to apply for a Green Card.
Once you’ve determined your eligibility and category, you typically need to fill out and submit a visa petition (I-130, I-140, or I-360, depending on your category). If your petition is approved and a visa is available in your category, you can apply for a Green Card either while you’re in the U.S. (known as adjustment of status) or from outside the U.S. at a U.S. Department of State consulate (known as consular processing).
Please note that the process can be complex and it often involves waiting periods, and the regulations can change. It is recommended to seek legal counsel when applying for a U.S. residence permit.
As of my last update in September 2021, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website (www.uscis.gov) provides the most current information.
How to become nationality of the United States of America
Acquiring U.S. nationality, or U.S. citizenship, can be achieved through a few different methods, with the most common being birthright citizenship, citizenship through parentage, and naturalization.
- Birthright Citizenship: Anyone born on U.S. soil automatically acquires U.S. citizenship. This applies regardless of the nationality of the parents. This is known as jus soli, or “right of soil.”
- Citizenship through Parentage (jus sanguinis): If you were born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent or parents, you may be a U.S. citizen. The specific requirements depend on whether one or both of your parents were U.S. citizens and their physical presence in the U.S. prior to your birth.
- Citizenship through Naturalization: If you are not a U.S. citizen by birth or did not acquire U.S. citizenship right after birth, you may still be eligible to become a U.S. citizen through the naturalization process. To be eligible, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Be a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder) for at least five years (or three years if married to a U.S. citizen).
- Have continuous residence and physical presence in the U.S.
- Demonstrate ability to read, write, and speak English.
- Demonstrate knowledge of U.S. history and government.
- Be of good moral character.
- Demonstrate attachment to the principles and ideals of the U.S. Constitution.
- Be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance.
The process of naturalization involves submitting Form N-400, the Application for Naturalization, to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), attending an interview, and passing the U.S. citizenship test.
This is a general overview and there are additional details and potential complexities for each path. Immigration law can be complex, and the information may have changed after my last update in September 2021. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, please consult a legal professional or visit the official USCIS website.