Citizenship is an important milestone for eligible immigrants and refugees. Nearly one third of Atlanta’s non-citizen immigrants are currently eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship, but have not done so because of the cost or lack of access to sound legal advice.
What is a US citizen?
U.S. citizens can be native-born, foreign-born, or naturalized. They owe their allegiance to the United States and are entitled to its protection and to exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens.
How do you become a US citizen?
- Be 18 or older at the time of filing
- Be a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
- Have lived within the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing the application. Students may apply for naturalization either where they go to school or where their family lives (if they are still financially dependent on their parents).
- Have continuous residence in the United States as a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
- Be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
- Reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization up to the time of naturalization
- Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (civics).
- Be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law
Impact of Naturalization
Naturalization empowers individuals with rights and duties and puts immigrants on an equal footing with US-born citizens.
Naturalization allows immigrants to:
- vote in national, state, and local elections
- be protected from deportation
- travel with a US passport
- access all federal government jobs
- petition for visas for their immediate relatives without getting in a queue
- can access all government benefits just as US-born citizens can.
The sense of security that comes with American citizenship and a commitment to one’s adopted home can lead to increased productivity and long-term investments in the receiving country, such as buying a house or opening up a business.
What is a citizenship corner?
A citizenship corner is a dedicated space in a library or any other public location where immigrants can find information about becoming a U.S. citizen.
Why are citizenship corners established in the city of Atlanta?
In September of 2014, Mayor Kasim Reed committed to implement 20 recommendations with the help of the Welcoming Atlanta Advisory Committee. In accordance with Recommendation #8 of Welcoming Atlanta’s 20 recommendations, Welcoming Atlanta partners with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to establish citizenship corners in Atlanta-Fulton public libraries.
How many citizenship corners are established in the city of Atlanta?
With the support of USCIS and partnership with various locations, Welcoming Atlanta has arranged 26 citizenship corners inside the city and throughout the metro area. These locations include:
- Centers of HOPE
- Neighborhood centers
- Atlanta City Hall
- Consulate General of Mexico
- Atlanta Municipal Court
- WorkSource Atlanta
- Atlanta-Fulton public libraries
What does a typical citizenship corner include?
A typical citizenship corner includes:
- citizenship test preparation materials (civic cards, vocabulary cards, study booklets)
- information about the naturalization process (brochures, flyers)
- information about community resources and services
- English teaching materials
For more information and resources on How to Effectively Set Up a Citizenship Corner, click here.