One of the questions I get most often is how an applicant can improve his or her odds of getting United States citizenship. A variety of factors can help to steer your citizenship application toward the approval pile. These do not guarantee your chances in and of themselves, but help to build up your overall profile as a good candidate.
Keep a clean criminal record — While most crimes do not automatically disqualify you from eventual citizenship, a clean record is one of the biggest factors officials look for when evaluating citizenship applications. If you have a criminal record, you should discuss it with an immigration attorney before applying.
Register with the Selective Service — Male green card holders who are between 18 to 25 years old are required to register and must provide their Selective Service Number and proof of registration along with their application for citizenship.
Learn, speak, read and write English — The United States government requires applicants who are applying for citizenship to show that they can speak, read and write English. While the citizenship interview can be done with a translator in specific circumstances, speaking, reading and writing English shows a commitment to learning how to fit into American society.
Get a college degree — Again, this is not a must, but a college, or even advanced, degree, makes you a valuable asset and also makes you more employable, another appealing factor.
Have a solid employment history — When evaluating applications, officials may have questions about long stretches of apparent unemployment. On the other hand, showing a consistent employment history, preferably featuring some career growth, shows that you are an upstanding member of society and working hard to contribute to the economy.
Pay your taxes — Being able to show a consistent history of tax payments again proves that you are willing to do your part and obey the laws of the country you are hoping to become a citizen of. The opposite is also true: if an investigation shows that you have not been paying your taxes, or have been completing them improperly, that can be taken as proof that you are trying to evade the laws and possibly not willing to abide by other American laws either.
Get a driver’s license & register your vehicles — This is yet another step showing you are doing your best to become a part of the fabric of American society.
Learn Civics & U.S. History — You don’t have a be an expert, but the citizenship test is designed to test a basic understanding of how major U.S. laws were formed, and the important historical milestones that made America the country it is today.
Again, we want to stress that these factors are not “musts”—you don’t need a college degree to become a citizen. But taken as a whole, these are the kinds of lifestyle aspects that help officials determine who may be a good candidate for citizenship and that show that you are a person of good moral character, one of the primary requirements.
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