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The Struggles for Citizenship

Many around the world dream of one day claiming the American Dream for themselves. Because that dream is shared by so many, however, that often means it is incredibly hard to reach. Consider the difficulty in receiving residency in America, or as it is popularly known, getting a green card. The odds are very much against all but the very best and brightest. Even they have to work hard and hope.

But even for those who have an easier path, for instance, those who marry Americans and immigrate through that more straightforward process, the steps to reaching citizenship are still incredibly difficult.

While there may be a bias in some circle in this country against the process, with an assumption that it is quite easy, those circles would be wrong. There is a residency requirement of multiple years (at least three for those married to an American, at least five for other green card holders) that prohibit long-term stays (more than six months) in the home country. The fees for every application, from the first visa to the first green card (for two years), to the permanent green card (for ten years after the initial two) are quite steep. No matter the pathway an individual immigrant takes, it’s impossible to stay in America and work towards citizenship without spending thousands of dollars in the process. That is a lot of money for those new to a country who must also invest in building a new life.

Beyond the costs, there is the paperwork, which is extensive. Just as thousands of dollars must be spent, so hundreds of pages must be filled out meticulously. Even the slightest mistake or inaccuracy can lead to an application being denied, which would mean a need to pay the application fees all of over again. Rigorous records must be kept for every trip, every move, every new job. For those on a marriage visa, records must be kept to show when the couple met, how their courtship developed, and every proceeding step from there. Evidence will be required for all of these moments, and again, a mistake could cost thousands as well as months of waiting while potentially also being left in legal limbo.

The difficulties are great enough that many people choose to go to an immigration lawyer who can help guide them through the citizenship process. But again, that is another expense to consider in an already expensive process.

Of course, in the end, if all goes well, the immigrant receives permanent access to that American Dream, which makes it all worthwhile, but it would be unfair to those immigrants to assume they have not worked hard or sacrificed to earn that dream. From the moment that person woke up in their native country and decided they wanted to be an American to the moment they receive their certificate of naturalization, it can take almost a decade of their lives, a large portion of their income, and countless hours of work.

It’s all worth it, but we should appreciate them for caring so much about our country that they’d sacrifice so much to join us here.

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