Originally Posted by Scrappy Jack
What I would really like to hear is more from naturalized citizens and their experience with the process. I always hear stories about how impossible it is to become a US citizen legally and how long it takes but I genuinely don't know how accurate that is. I am also really curious how the process today differs from the process at the time when Ellis Island was in full swing.
Without having a strong depth of knowledge on the subject, I am inclined to favor making legal immigration simpler - but that is largely predicated on the assumption that legal immigration today is a nightmare.
Well I can tell you... is not easy but definitely not impossible. In order to obtain a visa one must present and prove to the U.S. embassy financial solidity via assets and bank accounts. The U.S. embassy then evaluates how valuable the person applying is and issues the visa accordingly. This is why there is illegal immigration. The majority if not all illegal immigrant come from very poor families and therefore are unable to comply with the requirements for a visa. Also people with visas immigrate illegally by filing for a tourist visa, which is the easiest to obtain, then staying in the U.S. once their period of stay in over. This is fairly common.
The path to citizenship through a permanent resident card has many roads.
Becoming a permanent resident without an anchor immediate family member already a permanent resident making a request for adjustment of status of a family member is much more difficult than obtaining a visa. The path through an anchor family member varies in time depending on the status of the status of the requesting party. Also in order to become a resident one must sign and affidavit that will guarantee financial independence and and prevent those requested from applying to any federal wellfare program.
Once a person is a permanent resident a work permit and social security number is issued. In order to become a citizen one must wait a minimum of five year then apply for naturalization. When applying for naturalization one must provide copies of tax returns, criminal background, and prove that the U.S. has been the place of permanent residency for minimum amount of years prior to filing the application. Once these information is reviewed and approved one can be sworn in as U.S. Citizen.
There is a loophole that grands residency and citizenship fairly quickly and easy, that is to marry a citizen and being requested through him/her. This will grant a work permit and social security in about 90 days and a green card in about six months as long as the person being requested did NOT cross the border illegally.
In my particular case it took 8 years from the time of application to the issuing of a green card. I would have probably waited longer had my father not become a citizen. I myself now am applying for citizenship.
I do not think that the requirements for legal immigration are ridiculous. I see it as a way to prevent potential parasites from entering the system.
A note for the cost:
- Appointment to apply for a visa ~$150 (in 2000)
- Permanent resident forms, medical evaluations, etc... ~$2500
- Apply for naturalization ~$700
None of the payments guarantee approval. They all are non-refundable application fees. The cost can easily triple if there is an attorney involved or a third party completing and filing the applications.