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Are you 1 of 700,000 who will become US citizens this year?

When you and your family traveled from abroad and crossed a U.S. border, you may have had an ultimate goal in mind: to become a U.S. citizen. Perhaps your Colorado neighborhood has several households that include immigrants. As you prepare for citizenship, it can be helpful to talk to others who have already succeeded in such goals. Their insight and advice can provide strong support, especially if you're worried about possible obstacles that may arise along the way.

The more support you have, the better when it comes to navigating the immigration system. Any type of error in paperwork can delay the processing of your case. Also, you must be well prepared to take tests and to interview with immigration officials. During your journey, any number of legal obstacles can arise, which is why it's also wise to learn as much as you can ahead of time about where to seek legal status support.

Permanent residency is the first step

Do you have a green card? If not, then that will likely be the first part of your quest for citizenship. You must obtain permanent residence status. Once you have been living in Colorado or elsewhere in the United States for five years after getting your green card, you'll be eligible for the next step in the citizenship process. If you're married to a U.S. citizen or serve in the nation's military, the time requirements for consecutive years of residency may be less.

Find someone who will vouch for your character

Immigration officials will want to make sure your moral character is in good standing. You hopefully have an employer, co-worker or friend who is willing attest to this on your behalf.

Additional issues that are important

You must be age 18 or older to apply for U.S. citizenship. It's also crucial to show that you have mastered a basic understanding of U.S. laws and its history. It's definitely common to struggle with a language barrier; however, you must be able to speak, read, write and understand English if you want to become a citizen.

One of the final steps toward obtaining naturalization is to take an oath of allegiance to the United States. The entire process of citizenship can take months, and there are also fees you must pay. Unfortunately, there are people who try to take financial advantage of immigrants by promising to expedite their application process or by making other promises that come with a price. That's why it's critical to know how to recognize legitimate support networks and to seek assistance if an obstacle arises.

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