Citizenship of the United States
||It has been suggested that this article be merged into United States nationality law. (Discuss) Proposed since June 2015.|
Citizenship in the United States, being a citizen, is a status that entails specific rights, duties and benefits. Citizenship is understood as a "right to have rights" since it serves as a foundation for a bundle of subsequent rights, such as the right to live and work in the United States and to receive federal assistance.
There are two primary sources of citizenship: birthright citizenship, in which a person is presumed to be a citizen provided that they are born within the territorial limits of the United States, or other circumstances existing at the time of their birth (for example, citizenship of a parent), and naturalization, a process in which an immigrant applies for citizenship and is accepted. These two pathways to citizenship are specified in the Citizenship Clause of the Constitution's 1868 Fourteenth Amendment which reads:
National citizenship signifies membership in the country as a whole; state citizenship, in contrast, signifies a relation between a person and a particular state and has application generally limited to domestic matters. State citizenship may affect (1) tax decisions and (2) eligibility for some state-provided benefits such as higher education and (3) eligibility for state political posts such as U.S. Senator.
U.S. law permits multiple citizenship. A citizen of another country naturalized as a U.S. citizen may retain their previous citizenship, though they must renounce allegiance to the other country. A U.S. citizen retains U.S. citizenship when becoming the citizen of another country, should that country's laws allow it. Citizenship can be renounced by American citizens who also hold another citizenship via a formal procedure at a U.S. Embassy, and it can also be restored.
- 1 What it means to be a citizen
- 2 Civic participation
- 3 Dual citizenship
- 4 History of citizenship in the United States
- 5 Birthright citizenship
- 6 Naturalized citizenship
- 7 Honorary citizenship
- 8 Corporate citizenship
- 9 Citizenship vs. nationality
- 10 Controversies
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
What it means to be a citizen
- Freedom to reside and work. United States citizens have the right to reside and work in the United States. Certain non-citizens, such as permanent residents, have similar rights. However, non-citizens, unlike citizens, may have the right taken away: for example, they may be deported if convicted of a serious crime.
- Freedom to enter and leave the United States. United States citizens have the right to enter and leave the United States freely. Certain non-citizens, such as permanent residents, have similar rights. Unlike permanent residents, U.S. citizens do not have an obligation to maintain residence in the U.S. – they can leave for any length of time and return freely at any time.
- Voting for federal office in all fifty states and the District of Columbia is restricted to citizens only. States are not required to extend the franchise to all citizens: for example, several states bar citizen felons from voting, even after they have completed any custodial sentence. The United States Constitution bars states from restricting citizens from voting on grounds of race, color, previous condition of servitude, sex, failure to pay any tax, or age (for citizens who are at least eighteen years old). Historically, many states and local jurisdictions have allowed non-citizens to vote; however, today this is limited to local elections in very few places. Citizens are not compelled to vote.
- Freedom to stand for public office. The United States Constitution requires that all members of the United States House of Representatives have been citizens for seven years, and that all senators have been citizens for nine years, before taking office. Most states have similar requirements: for example California requires that legislators have been citizens for three years, and the Governor have been a citizen for five years, upon taking office. The U.S. Constitution requires that one be "a natural born Citizen" and a U.S. resident for fourteen years in order to be President of the United States. The Constitution also stipulates that otherwise eligible citizens must meet certain age requirements for these offices.
- Jury duty is only imposed upon citizens. Jury duty may be considered the "sole differential obligation" between non-citizens and citizens; the federal and state courts "uniformly exclude non-citizens from jury pools today, and with the exception of a few states in the past, this has always been the case.
- Military participation is not currently required in the United States, but a policy of conscription of men has been in place at various times (both in war and in peace) in American history, most recently during the Vietnam War. Currently, the United States Armed Forces are a professional all-volunteer force, although both male U.S. citizens and male non-citizen permanent residents are required to register with the Selective Service System and may be called up in the event of a future draft. Johns Hopkins University political scientist Benjamin Ginsberg writes, "The professional military has limited the need for citizen soldiers."
- Taxes. In the United States today, everyone except those whose income is derived from tax-exempt revenue (Subchapter N, Section 861 of the U.S. Tax Code) is required to file a federal income tax return. American citizens are subject to federal income tax on worldwide income regardless of their country of residence.
- Consular protection outside the United States. While traveling abroad, if a person is arrested or detained by foreign authorities, the person can request to speak to somebody from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Consular officials can provide resources for Americans incarcerated abroad, such as a list of local attorneys who speak English. The U.S. government may even intervene on the person's behalf. Non-citizen U.S. nationals also have this benefit.
- Increased ability to sponsor relatives living abroad. Several types of immigrant visas require that the person requesting the visa be directly related to a U.S. citizen. Having U.S. citizenship facilitates the granting of IR and F visas to family members.
- Ability to invest in U.S. real property without triggering FIRPTA. Perhaps the only quantifiable economic benefit of U.S. citizenship, citizens are not subject to additional withholding tax on income and capital gains derived from U.S. real estate under the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA).
- Transmission of U.S. citizenship to children born abroad. Generally, children born to two U.S. citizen parents abroad are automatically U.S. citizens at birth. When the parents are one U.S. citizen and one non-U.S. citizen, certain conditions about the U.S. citizen's parent's length of time spent in the U.S. need to be met. See United States nationality law for more details. Non-citizen U.S. nationals also have a similar benefit (transmission of non-citizen U.S. nationality to children born abroad).
- Protection from deportation. Naturalized U.S. citizens are no longer considered aliens and cannot be placed into deportation proceedings.
- Other benefits. The USCIS sometimes honors the achievements of naturalized U.S. citizens. The 'Outstanding American by Choice Award' was created by the USCIS to recognize the outstanding achievements of naturalized U.S. citizens, and past recipients include author Elie Wiesel who won the Nobel Peace Prize; Indra K. Nooyi who is CEO of PepsiCo; John Shalikashvili who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and others. Further, citizenship status can affect which country an athlete can compete as a member of in competitions such as the Olympics.
Civic participation is not required in the United States. There is no requirement to attend town meetings, belong to a political party, or vote in elections. However, a benefit of naturalization is the ability to "participate fully in the civic life of the country". There is disagreement about whether popular lack of involvement in politics is helpful or harmful.
Vanderbilt professor Dana D. Nelson suggests that most Americans merely vote for president every four years, and sees this pattern as undemocratic. In her book Bad for Democracy, Nelson argues that declining citizen participation in politics is unhealthy for long term prospects for democracy.
However, writers such as Robert D. Kaplan in The Atlantic see benefits to non-involvement; he wrote "the very indifference of most people allows for a calm and healthy political climate". Kaplan elaborated: "Apathy, after all, often means that the political situation is healthy enough to be ignored. The last thing America needs is more voters—particularly badly educated and alienated ones—with a passion for politics." He argued that civic participation, in itself, is not always a sufficient condition to bring good outcomes, and pointed to authoritarian societies such as Singapore which prospered because it had "relative safety from corruption, from breach of contract, from property expropriation, and from bureaucratic inefficiency".
A person who is considered a citizen by more than one nation has dual citizenship. It is possible for a United States citizen to have dual citizenship; this can be achieved in various ways, such as by birth in the United States to a parent, or in certain circumstances even grandparent, who is a citizen of a foreign country, by birth in another country to a parent(s) who is/are a United States citizen/s, or by having parents who are citizens of different countries. Anyone who becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen is required to renounce any prior "allegiance" to other countries during the naturalization ceremony; however, this renunciation of allegiance is generally not considered renunciation of citizenship to those countries.
Under certain circumstances there are relevant distinctions between dual citizens who hold a "substantial contact" with a country, for example by holding a passport or by residing in the country for a certain period of time, and those who do not. For example, under the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax (HEART) Act of 2008, U.S. citizens in general are subject to an expatriation tax if they give up U.S. citizenship, but there are exceptions (specifically ) for those who are either under age 18½ upon giving up U.S. citizenship and have lived in the U.S. for less than ten years in their lives, or who are dual citizens by birth residing in their other country of citizenship at the time of giving up U.S. citizenship and have lived in the U.S. for less than ten out of the past fifteen years. Similarly, the United States considers holders of a foreign passport to have a substantial contact with the country that issued the passport, which may preclude security clearance.
U.S. citizens are required by federal law to identify themselves with a U.S. passport, not with any other foreign passport, when entering or leaving the United States. The Supreme Court case of Afroyim v. Rusk declared that a U.S. citizen did not lose his citizenship by voting in an election in a foreign country, or by acquiring foreign citizenship, if they did not intend to lose U.S. citizenship. U.S. citizens who have dual citizenship do not lose their United States citizenship unless they renounce it officially.
History of citizenship in the United States
Citizenship began in colonial times as an active relation between people working cooperatively to solve municipal problems and participating actively in democratic decision-making, such as in New England town hall meetings. People met regularly to discuss local affairs and make decisions. These town meetings were described as the "earliest form of American democracy" which was vital since citizen participation in public affairs helped keep democracy "sturdy", according to Alexis de Tocqueville in 1835. A variety of forces changed this relation during the nation's history. Citizenship became less defined by participation in politics and more defined as a legal relation with accompanying rights and privileges. While the realm of civic participation in the public sphere has shrunk, the citizenship franchise has been expanded to include not just propertied white adult men but black men and adult women.
Earlier on, U.S. citizenship was not given to people of Indian or East Asian descent. A. K. Mozumdar was the first person born in the Indian sub-continent to attain U.S. citizenship. Few years earlier, as a result of the 1898 United States v. Wong Kim Ark Supreme Court decision, ethnic Chinese born in the United States became citizens. During World War II, due to Japan's heavy involvement as an aggressor, it was decided to restrict many Japanese citizens from applying for U.S. citizenship, while Chinese citizens encountered no trouble, because of China's alliance with the United States.
The Equal Nationality Act of 1934 was an American law which allowed foreign-born children of American mothers and alien fathers who had entered America before age 18 and lived in America for five years to apply for American citizenship for the first time. It also made the naturalization process quicker for American women's alien husbands. This law equalized expatriation, immigration, naturalization, and repatriation between women and men. However, it was not applied retroactively, and was modified by later laws, such as the Nationality Act of 1940.
U.S. citizenship is usually acquired by birth when a child is born in the territory of the United States. In addition to U.S. states, this includes the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Citizenship, however, was not specified in the original Constitution. In 1868 the Fourteenth Amendment specifically defined persons who were either born or naturalized in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction as citizens. All babies born in the United States—except those born to enemy aliens in wartime or the children of foreign diplomats—enjoy U.S. citizenship under the Supreme Court's long-standing interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The amendment states: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." There remains dispute as to who is "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States at birth.
By acts of Congress, every person born in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands is a United States citizen by birth. Also, every person born in the former Panama Canal Zone whose father or mother (or both) are or were a citizen is a United States citizen by birth.
Regardless of where they are born, children of U.S. citizens are U.S. citizens in most cases. Children born outside the United States with at least one U.S. citizen parent usually have birthright citizenship by parentage.
While persons born in the United States are considered to be citizens and can have passports, children under age eighteen are legally considered to be minors and cannot vote or hold office. Upon the event of their eighteenth birthday, they are considered full citizens but there is no ceremony acknowledging this relation or any correspondence between the new citizen and the government to this effect. Citizenship is assumed to exist, and the relation is assumed to remain viable until death or until it is renounced or dissolved by some other legal process. Secondary schools teach the basics of citizenship and create "informed and responsible citizens" who are "skilled in the arts of effective deliberation and action".
Americans who live in foreign countries and become members of other governments have, in some instances, been stripped of citizenship, although there have been court cases where decisions regarding citizenship have been reversed.
Acts of Congress provide for acquisition of citizenship by persons born abroad.
Agency in charge
The agency in charge of admitting new citizens is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, commonly abbreviated as USCIS. It is a bureau of the Department of Homeland Security. It offers web-based services. The agency depends on application fees for revenue; in 2009, with a struggling economy, applications were down sharply, and consequently there was much less revenue to upgrade and streamline services. There was speculation that if the administration of president Barack Obama passes immigration reform, then the agency could face a "welcome but overwhelming surge of Americans-in-waiting" and longer processing times for citizenship applications. The USCIS has made efforts to digitize records. A USCIS website says the "U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is committed to offering the best possible service to you, our customer" and which says "With our focus on customer service, we offer you a variety of services both before and after you file your case." The website allowed applicants to estimate the length of time required to process specific types of cases, to check application status, and to access a customer guide. The USCIS processes cases in the order they're received.
Pathways to citizenship
People applying to become citizens must satisfy certain requirements. For example, there have been requirements that applicants have been permanent residents for five years (three if married to a U.S. citizen), be of "good moral character" (meaning no felony convictions), be of "sound mind" in the judgment of immigration officials, have knowledge of the Constitution, and be able to speak and understand English unless they are elderly or disabled. Applicants must also pass a simple citizenship test. Up until recently, a test published by the Immigration and Naturalization Service asked questions such as "How many stars are there in our flag?" and "What is the Constitution?" and "Who is the president of the United States today?" At one point, the Government Printing Office sold flashcards for $8.50 to help test takers prepare for the test. In 2006, the government replaced the former trivia test with a ten-question oral test designed to "shun simple historical facts about America that can be recounted in a few words for more explanation about the principles of American democracy, such as freedom". One reviewer described the new citizenship test as "thoughtful". While some have criticized the new version of the test, officials counter that the new test is a "teachable moment" without making it conceptually more difficult, since the list of possible questions and answers, as before, will be publicly available. Six correct answers constitutes a passing grade. The new test probes for signs that immigrants "understand and share American values".
- Military participation is often a way for immigrant residents to become citizens. Since many people seek citizenship for its financial and social benefits, the promise of citizenship can be seen as a means of motivating persons to do dangerous activities such as fight in wars. For example, a 2009 article in the New York Times said that the United States Military was recruiting "skilled immigrants who are living in this country with temporary visas" by promising an opportunity to become citizens "in as little as six months" in exchange for service in Afghanistan and Iraq where US forces are "stretched thin". The option was not open to illegal immigrants. One estimate was that in 2009 the US military had 29,000 foreign-born people currently serving who were not American citizens. Spouses of citizens or non-citizens who served in the military also have less difficulty becoming citizens. One analyst noted that "many immigrants, not yet citizens, have volunteered to serve in the United States military forces ... Some have been killed and others wounded ... Perhaps this can be seen as a cynical attempt to qualify more easily for U.S. citizenship ... But I think that service in the U.S. military has to be taken as a pretty serious commitment to the United States." Immigrant soldiers who fight for the US often have an easier and faster path to citizenship. In 2002, President Bush signed an executive order to eliminate the three-year waiting period and made service personnel immediately eligible for citizenship. In 2003, Congress voted to "cut the waiting period to become a citizen from three years down to one year" for immigrants who had served in the armed forces. In 2003, of 1.4 million service members, 37,000 active-duty members were not citizens, and of these, 20 percent had applied for citizenship. By June 2003, 12 non-citizens had died fighting for the United States in the Iraqi war. The military has had a tradition of "filling out its ranks" with aliens living in the U.S. Non-citizens fought in World War II. The military has struggled to "fill its depleted ranks" by recruiting more non-US citizens. But there is considerable anxiety about using foreigners to serve in the U.S. armed forces. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was quoted as saying: "When Rome went out and hired mercenary soldiers, Rome fell."
- Grandparent rule. Section 322 of the INA, added in 1994, enabled children of a U.S. citizen who did not get citizenship at birth, to use the physical presence period in the U.S. of a grandparent who was a citizen to qualify for U.S. citizenship. In 2006, there were 4,000 applications of citizenship using the physical presence of grandparents. Israelis comprise 90% of those taking advantage of the clause.
According to a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, "citizenship is a very, very valuable commodity". However, one study suggested legal residents eligible for citizenship, but who don't apply, tend to have low incomes (41 percent), do not speak English well (60 percent), or have low levels of education (25 percent). There is strong demand for citizenship based on the numbers of applications filed. From 1920 to 1940, the number of immigrants to the United States who became citizens numbered about 200,000 each year; there was a spike after World War II, and then the level reduced to about 150,000 per year until resuming to the 200,000 level beginning about 1980. In the mid-1990s to 2009, the levels rose to about 500,000 per year with considerable variation. In 1996, more than one million people became citizens through naturalization. In 1997, there were 1.41 million applications filed; in 2006, 1.38 million. The number of naturalized citizens in the United States rose from 6.5 million in the mid-1990s to 11 million in 2002. By 2003, the pool of immigrants eligible to become naturalized citizens was 8 million, and of these, 2.7 million lived in California. In 2003, the number of new citizens from naturalization was 463,204. In 2007, the number was 702,589. In 2007, 1.38 million people applied for citizenship creating a backlog. In 2008, applications decreased to 525,786.
Naturalization fees were $60 in 1989; $90 in 1991; $95 in 1994; $225 in 1999; $260 in 2002; $320 in 2003; $330 in 2005. Application fees were increased from $330 to $595 and an additional $80 computerized fingerprinting fee was added. The high fees have been criticized as putting up one more wall to citizenship. Increases in fees for citizenship have drawn criticism. Doris Meissner, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute and former Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner, doubted that fee increases deter citizenship-seekers. In 2009, the number of immigrants applying for citizenship plunged 62 percent; reasons cited were the slowing economy and the cost of naturalization.
The citizenship process has been described as a ritual that is meaningful for many immigrants. Many new citizens are sworn in during Fourth of July ceremonies. Most citizenship ceremonies take place at offices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. However, one swearing-in ceremony was held at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia in 2008. The judge who chose this venue explained: "I did it to honor our country's warriors and to give the new citizens a sense for what makes this country great." According to federal law, citizenship applicants who are also changing their names must appear before a federal judge.
The title of "Honorary Citizen of the United States" has been granted eight times by an act of Congress or by a proclamation issued by the President pursuant to authorization granted by Congress. The eight individuals are Sir Winston Churchill, Raoul Wallenberg, William Penn, Hannah Callowhill Penn, Mother Teresa, the Marquis de Lafayette, Casimir Pulaski, and Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, Viscount of Galveston and Count of Gálvez.
Sometimes, the government awarded non-citizen immigrants who died fighting for American forces with the posthumous title of U.S. citizen, but this is not considered honorary citizenship. In June 2003, Congress approved legislation to help families of fallen non-citizen soldiers.
There is a sense in which corporations can be considered "citizens". Since corporations are considered persons in the eyes of the law, it is possible to think of corporations as being like citizens. For example, the airline Virgin America asked the United States Department of Transportation to be treated as an American air carrier. The advantage of "citizenship" is having the protection and support of the United States government when jockeying with foreign governments for access to air routes and overseas airports. A competitor of Virgin America called Alaska Airlines asked for a review of the situation; according to "U.S. law, foreign ownership in a U.S. air carrier is limited to 25% of the voting interest in the carrier", but executives at Virgin America insisted the airline met this requirement.
For the purposes of diversity jurisdiction in the United States civil procedure, corporate citizenship is determined by the principal place of business of the corporation. There is some degree of disagreement among legal authorities as to how exactly this may be determined.
Citizenship vs. nationality
Citizenship in the United States comprises a larger set of privileges and rights for those persons that are U.S. citizens which is not afforded to individuals that are only U.S. nationals by virtue of their rights under U.S. Nationality Law. United States law makes a precise distinction between a United States citizen and a United States national. Although all U.S. citizens are also U.S. nationals, not all U.S. nationals are U.S. citizens. The United States Naturalization Act of 1790 (1 Stat. 103) provided the first rules to be followed by the United States in the granting of national citizenship after the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. A number of other Acts and statutes followed the Act of 1790 that expanded or addressed specific situations but it was not until the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (Pub.L. 82–414, 66 Stat. 163, enacted June 27, 1952), codified under Title 8 of the United States Code (8 U.S.C. ch. 12), that the variety of statutes governing citizenship law but were organized within one single body of text. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 set forth the legal requirements for the acquisition of American nationality. The Fourteenth Amendment (1868) addressed citizenship rights. The United States nationality law, 8 U.S.C. § 1408, despite its "nationality" title, comprises the statues that embody the law regarding both American citizenship and American nationality.
For example, as specified in 8 U.S.C. § 1408, a person whose only connection to the U.S. is through birth in an outlying possession (which, as of March 2015, was defined in 8 U.S.C. § 1101 as American Samoa and Swains Island), or through descent from a person so born, acquires only U.S. nationality, not U.S. citizenship. Such person is said to be a U.S. national, not a U.S. citizen, or simply a U.S. noncitizen national.
As of 11 February 2014, American Samoans continued to be U.S. nationals but not U.S. citizens (i.e., U.S. noncitizen nationals). People born in American Samoa receive passports declaring the holder is only a U.S. national, not a U.S. citizen. For an America Samoan to become a U.S. citizens, he or she must relocate to another part of the United States, initiate the naturalization process, pay the $680 fee (as of 11 February 2014), pass a moral character assessment, be fingerprinted and pass an English/civics examination.
In addition, residents of the Northern Mariana Islands who automatically gained U.S. citizenship in 1986 as a result of the Covenant between the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. could elect to become U.S. noncitizen nationals within 6 months of the implementation of the Covenant or within 6 months of turning 18.
The nationality status of a person born in an unincorporated U.S. Minor Outlying Island is not specifically mentioned by law, but under international law and Supreme Court dicta, they are also regarded as U.S. noncitizen nationals.
U. S. noncitizen nationals may reside and work in the United States without restrictions, and may apply for citizenship under the same rules as resident aliens. Like resident aliens, they are not presently allowed by any U.S. state to vote in federal or state elections, although, as with resident aliens, there is no constitutional prohibition against their doing so. Like U.S. citizens, U.S. noncitizen nationals may transmit their U.S. noncitizen nationality to children born abroad, although the rules are somewhat different from those for U.S. citizens.
The U.S. passport issued to noncitizen nationals contains the endorsement code 9 which states: "The bearer is a United States national and not a United States citizen" on the annotations page.
The issue of citizenship naturalization is a highly contentious matter in American politics, particularly regarding illegal immigrants. Candidates in the 2008 presidential election such as Rudolph Giuliani tried to "carve out a middle ground" on the issue of illegal immigration, but rivals such as John McCain advocated legislation requiring illegal immigrants to first leave the country before being eligible to apply as citizens. Some measures to require proof of citizenship upon registering to vote have met with controversy.
Issues such as whether to include questions about current citizenship status in census questions have been debated in the Senate. Generally, there tends to be controversy when citizenship affects political issues. For example, issues such as asking questions about citizenship on the United States Census tend to cause controversy. Census data affects state electoral clout; it also affects budgetary allocations. Including non-citizens in Census counts also shifts political power to states that have large numbers of non-citizens due to the fact that reapportionment of congressional seats is based on Census data.
There have been controversies based on speculation about which way newly naturalized citizens are likely to vote. Since immigrants from many countries have been presumed to vote Democratic if naturalized, there have been efforts by Democratic administrations to streamline citizenship applications before elections to increase turnout; Republicans, in contrast, have exerted pressure to slow down the process. In 1997, there were efforts to strip the citizenship of 5,000 newly approved immigrants who, it was thought, had been "wrongly naturalized"; a legal effort to do this presented enormous challenges. An examination by the Immigration and Naturalization Service of 1.1 million people who were granted citizenship from September 1995 to September 1996 found 4,946 cases in which a criminal arrest should have disqualified an applicant or in which an applicant lied about his or her criminal history. Before the 2008 election, there was controversy about the speed of the USCIS in processing applications; one report suggested that the agency would complete 930,000 applications in time for the newly processed citizens to vote in the November 2008 election. Foreign-born naturalized citizens tend to vote at the same rates as natives. For example, in the state of New Jersey in the 2008 election, the foreign born represented 20.1 percent of the state's population of 8,754,560; of these, 636,000 were eighteen or older and hence eligible to vote; of eligible voters, 396,000 actually voted, which was about 62%. So foreign-born citizens vote in roughly the same proportion (62%) as native citizens (67%).
There has been controversy about the agency in charge of citizenship. The USCIS has been criticized as being a "notoriously surly, inattentive bureaucracy" with long backlogs in which "would-be citizens spent years waiting for paperwork". Rules made by United States Congress and the federal government regarding citizenship are highly technical and often confusing, and the agency is forced to cope with enforcement within a complex regulatory milieu. There have been instances in which applicants for citizenship have been deported on technicalities. One Pennsylvania doctor and his wife, both from the Philippines who applied for citizenship, and one Mr. Darnell from Canada who was married to an American with two children from this marriage, ran afoul of legal technicalities and faced deportation. The New York Times reported that "Mr. Darnell discovered that a 10-year-old conviction for domestic violence involving a former girlfriend, even though it had been reduced to a misdemeanor and erased from his public record, made him ineligible to become a citizen—or even to continue living in the United States." Overworked federal examiners under pressure to make "quick decisions" as well as "weed out security risks" have been described as preferring "to err on the side of rejection". In 2000, 399,670 applications were denied (about 1/3 of all applications); in 2007, 89,683 applications for naturalization were denied, about 12 percent of those presented.
Generally, eligibility for citizenship is denied for the millions of people living in the United States illegally, although from time to time, there have been amnesties. In 2006, there were mass protests numbering hundreds of thousands of people throughout the US demanding U.S. citizenship for illegal immigrants. Many carried banners which read "We Have A Dream Too". One estimate is that there are 12 million illegal immigrants in the USA in 2006. There are many American high school students with citizenship issues. In 2008 it was estimated that there were 65,000 illegal immigrant students. The number was less clear for post-secondary education. A 1982 Supreme Court decision entitled illegal immigrants to free education from kindergarten through high school. Undocumented immigrants who get arrested face difficulties in the courtroom as they have no constitutional right to challenge the outcome of their deportation hearings. In 2009, writer Tom Barry of the Boston Review criticized the crackdown against illegal immigrants since it "flooded the federal courts with nonviolent offenders, besieged poor communities, and dramatically increased the U.S. prison population, while doing little to solve the problem itself". Barry criticized the United States' high incarceration rate as being "fives times greater than the average rate in the rest of the world". Virginia Senator Jim Webb agreed that "we are doing something dramatically wrong in our criminal justice system".
- Anchor baby
- Birth tourism
- Birthright citizenship in the United States of America
- Birthright generation
- Citizenship (general discussion for all nations)
- DREAM Act
- History of citizenship
- Jus soli
- Natural born citizen of the United States
- Undocumented students in the United States
- Undocumented youth in the United States
- United States nationality law
- "Get a passport". Travel.state.gov. 2011-04-01. Retrieved 2014-04-08.
- Robert Heineman (book reviewer) (July 2004). "Downsizing Democracy: How America Sidelined Its Citizens and Privatized Its Public (book) by Matthew A. Crenson and Benjamin Ginsberg". The Independent Institute. Retrieved 2009-12-16.
The withholding tax has made the voluntary component of tax collection much less important, and the professional military has limited the need for citizen soldiers.
- Note: A person is presumed to be a full citizen in the sense of having a duty to pay some types of taxes and serve on juries, upon reaching the age of majority. At present the age of majority is 18 years.
- 8 U.S.C. § 1481
- "Legal Considerations". Travel.state.gov. Retrieved 2014-04-08.
- Jerry Markon (June 12, 2008). "Judge Offers Lesson In U.S. Citizenship". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-07-21.
Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee had his citizenship restored at Arlington after losing it because of his role in the Civil War.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: Citizenship Through Naturalization: A Guide to Naturalization, page 28 of 58 in PDF, page 25 in hard copy
- Peter J. Spiro (31 December 2007). Beyond Citizenship : American Identity After Globalization: American Identity After Globalization. Oxford University Press. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-19-972225-9.
- Martin A. Vaughan (May 28, 2008). "New Law Makes Escape Tougher For Tax Exiles". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
It's been called "the ultimate estate plan": moving to a desert island or other far-off locale to escape the clutches of the Internal Revenue Service. Indeed, hundreds of Americans do formally renounce their U.S. citizenship every year, many in order to protect their wealth from income, estate and gift taxes. But last week, Congress may have made life less rewarding for tax exiles.
- "Citizenship and Civic Engagement". mpI Migration Policy Institute. 2009-11-20. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
US citizenship, which is attained through the naturalization process, brings many benefits to immigrants and to the United States.
- and (d).
- Julia Preston (July 5, 2007). "Surge Seen in Applications for Citizenship". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
The number of legal immigrants seeking to become United States citizens is surging, officials say, prompted by imminent increases in fees to process naturalization applications, citizenship drives across the country and new feelings of insecurity among immigrants.
- PRNewswire (April 27, 2009). "'Outstanding American by Choice Award' Announced by the United States Citizenship". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
Recipients of the award display exceptional accomplishments through professional achievements and leadership, civic participation, responsible citizenship, and demonstrate outstanding commitment to the United States while embodying the values and ideals that are inherent to this country, and within each of its citizens.
- Jere Longman (March 3, 2000). "OLYMPICS; Marathon Runner's U.S. Citizenship Is on the Line". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
Khalid Khannouchi, the world-record holder in the marathon, has still not given up hope of obtaining American citizenship in time to compete in the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia. If he does gain citizenship, he is considering the unusual prospect of running both the London Marathon on April 16 and the Olympic trials three weeks later in Pittsburgh, friends said.
- Robert D. Kaplan (1997-12-01). "Was Democracy Just a Moment?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
Then there are malls, with their own rules and security forces, as opposed to public streets; private health clubs as opposed to public playgrounds; incorporated suburbs with strict zoning; and other mundane aspects of daily existence in which—perhaps without realizing it, because the changes have been so gradual—we opt out of the public sphere and the "social contract" for the sake of a protected setting.
- Robert D. Kaplan (1997-12-01). "Was Democracy Just a Moment?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
Lee Kuan Yew's offensive neo-authoritarianism ... is paternalistic, meritocratic, and decidedly undemocratic, has forged prosperity from abject poverty ... Doesn't liberation from filth and privation count as a human right? Jeffrey Sachs ... writes that "good government" means relative safety from corruption, from breach of contract, from property expropriation, and from bureaucratic inefficiency.
- "Title 8 of Code of Federal Regulations (8 CFR) \ 8 CFR Part 1337- Oath of allegiance \ § 1337.1 Oath of allegiance.". U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. Retrieved 2011-09-16.
I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; ...
- U.S. State Department "US State Department Services Dual Nationality"
- Webel, Beth; Gandhu, Christopher (2011-12-19). "Cut U.S. tax ties". Advisor.ca. Rogers Media. Retrieved 2013-10-11.
- US State Department Services Dual Nationality Archived October 14, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- "U.S. Mexicans Gain Dual Citizenship". The New York Times. March 20, 2003. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
Maria Sanchez was proud to become a United States citizen in 1985, but it did not completely erase the sense of loss she felt over having to give up her Mexican citizenship.
- Jonathan Alter (March 3, 2010). "WHO CARES ABOUT IOWA?". Newsweek. Retrieved 2011-07-15.
While New Hampshire has no minorities or big cities (there's plenty of both in upcoming primaries), the New England town-hall meeting was the earliest form of American democracy...
- Jean Bethke Elshtain (1996-10-29). "Democracy at Century's End (speech)". Brigham Young University. Retrieved 2011-07-15.
Alexis de Tocqueville, in his classic work Democracy in America, argued that one reason the American democracy he surveyed was so sturdy was that citizens took an active part in public affairs. ...
- Paula Span (November 20, 2005). "JERSEY; An Exercise In Community". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-07-15.
A few years ago, in an influential book called Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard, warned of the decline in civic engagement, the loss of social capital that keeps neighborhoods and towns vital.
- Naomi Wolf (November 25, 2007). "Hey, Young Americans, Here's a Text for You". Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-07-15.
Is America still America if millions of us no longer know how democracy works? When I speak on college campuses, I find that students are either baffled by democracy's workings or that they don't see any point in engaging in the democratic process. Sometimes both
- Naomi Wolf (September 27, 2007). "Books: The End of America". Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-07-15.
I want to summarize why I believe we are facing a real crisis. My reading showed me that there are 10 key steps that would-be despots always take when they are seeking to close down an open society or to crush a democracy movement, and we are seeing each of those in the US today
- Note: after the Emancipation Proclamation during the American Civil War, blacks became technically enfranchised as citizens although segregation and discrimination did not begin to break down until the twentieth century
- Note: 1919 (?) women achieved the right to vote after a constitutional amendment.
- Sally Kitch (6 August 2009). The Specter of Sex: Gendered Foundations of Racial Formation in the United States. SUNY Press. pp. 179–. ISBN 978-1-4384-2754-6.
- Ervin Eugene Lewis; Merritt Madison Chambers (1935). New Frontiers of Democracy: The Story of America in Transition. American education Press, Incorporated.
- Richard Marback (16 February 2015). Generations: Rethinking Age and Citizenship. Wayne State University Press. pp. 203–. ISBN 978-0-8143-4081-3.
- See 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(36) and 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(38) Providing the term "State" and "United States" definitions on the U.S. Federal Code, Immigration and Nationality Act. 8 U.S.C. § 1101a
- 8 U.S.C. § 1401 , 8 U.S.C. § 1401a , 8 U.S.C. § 1401b , 8 U.S.C. § 1402 , 8 U.S.C. § 1403 , 8 U.S.C. § 1404 , 8 U.S.C. § 1405 , 8 U.S.C. § 1406 , 8 U.S.C. § 1407 , 8 U.S.C. § 1408 , 8 U.S.C. § 1409
- "3222 CITIZENSHIP BY BIRTH". Department of Social Services. State of South Dakota. April 2003. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
- "Romney Eyeing End to Birthright Citizenship". ABC News. July 22, 2007. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
ABC News' Teddy Davis Reports: Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney backs an end to the policy known as chain migration but he has not yet reached a conclusion on the more controversial question of whether the United States should end birthright citizenship for children born in the United States to illegal immigrants.
- "The Constitution of the United States: Amendments 11–27". Archives.gov. Retrieved 2014-04-08.
- See Birthright citizenship in the United States#Current controversy.
- 8 U.S.C. secs. 1402 (Puerto Rico), 1406 (Virgin Islands), and 1407 (Guam); 48 U.S.C. sec. 1801, US-NMI Covenant sec. 303 (Northern Mariana Islands).
- 8 U.S.C. sec. 1403.
- Susan Jo Keller (October 27, 1996). "Bringing Up Citizens". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-12-16.
But teachers are quick to say that it takes more to produce a good citizen than using their 50-minute slices of a student's day for a week or two before the election to talk about the Presidential race. And convincing students that their ballots count is only part of it.
- "METRO DATELINE; American Citizenship Restored to Kahane Published". The New York Times. February 21, 1987. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
A Federal judge yesterday restored the American citizenship of Rabbi Meir Kahane, the Brooklyn-born founder of the Jewish Defense League who emigrated to Israel more than 15 years ago.
- "Citizenship and Nationality". U.S. Department Of State. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
- Ben Arnoldy (November 17, 2006). "US to unveil new citizenship test". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
To gain American citizenship, immigrants must be able to answer such questions as: What was the 49th state added to our Union? What color are the stars on our flag? And who wrote the Star Spangled Banner? Sound trivial? The US government thinks so, and plans to roll out a new pilot test this winter.
- Editorial staff (September 25, 2009). "A Commitment to Citizenship". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
Reports this week that the United States citizenship agency was yet again struggling with a budget shortfall, and considering raising fees on the hopeful immigrants who are its main source of revenue, could have led any American to wonder what kind of beacon to the world we are anymore.
- PRNewswire (May 26, 2009). "CSC Receives $27 Million Task Order From United States Citizenship and Immigration...". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
CSC (NYSE: CSC) announced today that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) awarded the company a task order to conduct scanning, indexing and file management operations at a records digitization facility. The new agreement, which was signed during the company's fourth quarter fiscal year 2009, has a one-year performance period and a contract value of $27 million.
- "USCIS Processing Time Information". United States government—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 2009-11-20. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is committed to offering the best possible service to you, our customer. With our focus on customer service, we offer you a variety of services both before and after you file your case.
- Andrew Taylor (2009-11-05). "Senate blocks census US-citizenship question". Newark Star-Ledger (nj.com). Retrieved 2009-11-19.
Senate Democrats have blocked a GOP attempt to require next year's census forms to ask people whether they are a U.S. citizen.
- Bill Nichols (2006-05-16). "Study guide for U.S. citizenship test omits freedom of press". USA Today. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
A set of flashcards designed to help applicants for U.S. citizenship learn basic civics has become one of the most popular items sold by the Government Printing Office. But the $8.50 flashcards — which contain questions and answers from the actual citizenship exam — won't help immigrants learn much about the role of the press in American democracy.
- Julia Preston (February 14, 2009). "U.S. Military Will Offer Path to Citizenship". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
Stretched thin in Afghanistan and Iraq, the American military will begin recruiting skilled immigrants who are living in this country with temporary visas, offering them the chance to become United States citizens in as little as six months.
- Michael Barone (November 30, 2005). "Dual citizenship". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
I participated today in a panel at the Hudson Institute on dual citizenship. The subject was Hudson's John Fonte's paper lamenting dual citizenship and urging penalties for U.S. citizens who have foreign citizenship and exercise that citizenship by voting or running for office in foreign elections.
- Tatiana Morales (July 4, 2003). "Citizenship For Immigrant Soldiers". CBS News. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
An easy assumption to make is that the men and women serving in our armed forces are American citizens. But that is not always the case. When the war broke out, and casualties started to mount, it was discovered that some who died were still waiting to become Americans.
- "National Affairs: Passport to Citizenship". Time Magazine. 1951-04-02. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
Though the Army had never gone abroad to hire foreign mercenaries, it had long filled out its ranks with aliens living in the U.S. (In World War II, an honorable service record gave aliens citizenship in three years instead of five.)
- Tom Regan (December 26, 2006). "US military may recruit foreigners to serve". Christian Science Monitor. Archived from the original on February 27, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
Struggling to fill its depleted ranks using American citizenry, the US military is considering recruiting more non-US citizens, according to Pentagon officials.
- Miriam Jordan (October 16, 2007). "Citizenship via Grandparents". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on May 2, 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
A swelling number of Israelis are flying to the U.S., armed with tattered U.S. high school diplomas and faded marriage certificates, to try to tap into an obscure clause in U.S. immigration law that enables some grandparents to pass citizenship to their grandchildren.
- Tara Bahrampour (September 12, 2009). "Number of Immigrants Applying for U.S. Citizenship Is Down 62%, Study Finds". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
The number of immigrants applying to become U.S. citizens plunged 62 percent last year as the cost of naturalization rose and the economy soured, according to an analysis released Friday by the National Council of La Raza, a Latino advocacy organization.
- "Number of Immigrants Who Became US Citizens: Fiscal Year 1920 to 2008". mpI Migration Policy Institute. 2009-11-20. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
- William Booth (November 17, 1996). "The U.S. Citizenship Test: Learning, And Earning, Their Stripes". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
A record number of immigrants, more than 1 million, will become U.S. citizens this year.
- Michael Fix; Jeffrey S. Passel; Kenneth Sucher (September 2003). "Immigrant Families and Workers—Trends in Naturalization (pdf)". Urban Institute—Immigration Studies Program. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
- "Citizenship Fee Increases In Context Figure 1. Naturalization Applications Processed and Pending at USCIS, FY 1985 to 2005.". mpI Migration Policy Institute. 2009-11-20. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
- "Agency Plans to Double U.S. Citizenship Fee". The New York Times. September 4, 1997. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
The cost of becoming a United States citizen would more than double under a draft proposal by the Clinton Administration, but the idea is drawing fire from advocates for immigrants. The Immigration and Naturalization Service has forwarded to the Justice Department a plan to raise a variety of fees, including increasing the citizenship application to $200 or more from the current $95.
- Jerry Markon (June 12, 2008). "Judge Offers Lesson In U.S. Citizenship". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
Ellis had moved his Alexandria courtroom to Arlington National Cemetery to swear in immigrants from more than 30 countries as U.S. citizens, the first time a naturalization ceremony was held on the hallowed grounds in the cemetery's 144-year history. He wanted to impress upon the new citizens the sacrifices made for their freedom.
- Harry R. Weber (2009-09-04). "Virgin America to DOT: Dismiss citizenship challenge". USA Today. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
Privately held air carrier Virgin America asked the Department of Transportation on Thursday to deny Alaska Airlines' repeated challenges to its U.S. citizenship status and close the case.
- Business Wire (September 23, 2009). "In Depth of Recession, American Business Confirm Value of Corporate Citizenship; Focus on Sustainable Products and Workforce Development, New Survey Shows". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
The 2009 State of Corporate Citizenship survey results reveal that, despite the recession, corporate citizenship practices are ingrained in increasing numbers of American businesses. Many business leaders report that attention to corporate citizenship efforts is more important in a recession.
- Should American Samoans be citizens? Danny Cevallos. CNN. 11 February 2014. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
- Schultz, Jeffrey D. (2002). Encyclopedia of Minorities in American Politics: African Americans and Asian Americans. p. 284. Retrieved 2015-03-08.
- Hymowitz; Weissman (1975). A History of Women in America. Bantam.
- Should American Samoans be citizens? Danny Cevallos. CNN. 11 February 2014. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
- U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 7 – Consular Affairs 1120: Acquisition of U.S. Nationality in U.S. Territories and Possessions. U.S. Department of State. 7 FAM 1126.9 CNMI Applicants Claiming National Status. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
- U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 7 – Consular Affairs 1120: Acquisition of U.S. Nationality in U.S. Territories and Possessions. U.S. Department of State. 7 FAM 1121.4-3 Status of Inhabitants of Territories Not Mentioned in the Immigration and Nationality Act(INA). Retrieved 13 December 2015.
- 7 FAM 1140 Acquisition of non-citizen U.S. nationality by birth abroad. Foreign Affairs Manual. U.S. Department of State.
- U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 7 – Consular Affairs 7 FAM 1140: Acquisition of noncitizen U.S. Nationality by Birth Abroad. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
- "Giuliani Sidesteps Whether Illegals Should Get Citizenship Without First Leaving U.S.". ABC News. March 23, 2007. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani sidestepped whether he supports giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship without first requiring them to leave the country while campaigning Thursday in the Washington, D.C. area.
- Ian Urbina (May 12, 2008). "Voter ID Battle Shifts to Proof of Citizenship". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
The battle over voting rights will expand this week as lawmakers in Missouri are expected to support a proposed constitutional amendment to enable election officials to require proof of citizenship from anyone registering to vote.
- Ed O'Keefe (2009-11-19). "Eye Opener: Citizenship and the Census". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
Happy Friday! Should the 2010 Census account for a person's citizenship status? At least two Republican lawmakers think so, arguing the forthcoming Congressional reapportionment should not be swayed by illegal immigrants, who whose numbers will give more seats to certain states.
- Census Nonsense, Los Angeles Times, May 29, 2010; see also, Steve Camarota, Remaking the Political Landscape: The Impact of Illegal and Legal Immigration on Congressional Apportionment Center for Immigration Studies, October 2003.
- Eric Schmitt (May 24, 1997). "U.S. Is Seeking To Strip 5,000 Of Citizenship". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
The Clinton Administration will seek to strip the citizenship of nearly 5,000 immigrants who were wrongly naturalized in an immigration drive last year, Federal officials said today.
- Julia Preston (March 15, 2008). "Goal Set for Reducing Backlog on Citizenship Applications". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
Immigration officials said on Friday that they expected to complete about 930,000 citizenship applications in the fiscal year ending September 30, reducing a huge backlog in a time frame that would allow many new citizens to register to vote in the November elections.
- "Role of Foreign-born Voters in Elections". mpI Migration Policy Institute. 2009-11-20. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
Note: click on "New Jersey" MPI election profiles for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, examining voter registration by nativity, providing breakdowns for foreign-born citizens as a share of total state population, and detailing their turnout in the 2004 general election, and by ethnicity.
- Julia Preston (April 12, 2008). "Perfectly Legal Immigrants, Until They Applied for Citizenship". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
Dr. Pedro Servano always believed that his journey from his native Philippines to the life of a community doctor in Pennsylvania would lead to American citizenship.
- Laura Parker (2006-04-11). "Immigrants, backers demand citizenship". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
Hundreds of thousands of people demanding U.S. citizenship for illegal immigrants took to the streets in dozens of cities from New York to San Diego on Monday in some of the most widespread demonstrations since the mass protests began around the country last month.
- Eddy Ramírez (August 7, 2008). "Should Colleges Enroll Illegal Immigrants?". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
A native of Poland, she has resided in the United States unlawfully for most of her 21 years. Unless federal immigration laws change and allow undocumented students like her to become legal residents, she won't be able to put her degree to use and work as an American engineer.
- Dan Slater (January 9, 2009). "Mukasey Limits Ineffective Assistance Challenge for Aliens". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-12-16.
On Wednesday, Michael Mukasey ruled that aliens have no constitutional right to challenge the outcome of their deportation hearings based on their lawyers’ mistakes.
- Tom Barry (2009-11-01). "A Death in Texas—Profits, poverty, and immigration converge". Boston Review. Retrieved 2009-12-16.
Although the term "criminal aliens" has no precise definition, its broadening use reflects a trend in dealing with immigrants. With the post-9/11 creation of DHS and its two agencies—Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP)—a wide sector of aliens increasingly became the focus of joint efforts by immigration and law enforcement officers.
- How to Become a US citizen – an article on the process of becoming a US citizen
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services – Citizenship Resource Center
- Study materials for the U.S. citizenship civics test
- Common Citizenship Interview Questions