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Many immigrants qualify to apply for citizenship

According to a report issued this week by the Department of Homeland Security, there are more than 13.3 million documented immigrants with permanent residency in the United States, 8.8 million of whom are eligible to apply for citizenship.

The report indicated that in 2012, 25.1 percent of immigrants holding permanent residency status and 30.6 percent of those eligible to apply for citizenship hailed from Mexico. The information in the report was gathered from 2010 census data.

For many immigrants, the ultimate goal is to become a citizen of the United States, but the rules and steps that apply to naturalization can be intimidating. There are many important issues to consider when it comes to applying for citizenship.

Generally, you have to be a permanent resident of the United States and hold a valid green card before applying for citizenship. However, there are some non-immigrant visas such as L-1A intra-company transfer visas, that allow you to adjust your status and eventually be naturalized.

In order to be naturalized after marrying a U.S. citizen, an individual first needs to hold permanent residency status for three years and continually reside in the United States for 18 months during that time.

Immigrants who are not married to U.S. citizens face an even longer waiting time of five years with a "continuous residency" requirement of two and a half years.

Many other naturalization requirements exist as well.

An experienced immigration attorney can help guide you through the complex laws governing naturalization. Additionally, Congress is currently considering making major changes to U.S. immigration laws, so it will become even more important to consult an expert before embarking on your path to citizenship.

Source: Huffington Post, "GreenTech Automotive, Electric Car Company, Now Under Federal Investigation After Big Plans," Holbrook Mohr and Mitch Weiss, Aug. 12, 2013

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