Immigrants in South Carolina who are permanent residents and who would like to vote in the November presidential election should begin the naturalization process as soon as possible to ensure that they finish in time to register. The process can take about five months although for some people, it goes more quickly.
In order to become a naturalized citizen, a person must already be a permanent resident. It is also necessary to have lived in the United States for three years as a permanent resident if married to an U.S. citizen and five years as a permanent resident otherwise. The applicant must have been physically present in the country for at least half of that period of time.
Unless they can demonstrate that they are exempt due to a physical or mental disability, applicants must also have English language proficiency and pass a test on U.S. government and history. There is a $680 filing fee, but it is possible to get the fee waived if the person is unable to pay. It is also necessary to be of good moral character.
A person who is a permanent resident who would like to become naturalized may wish to speak to an attorney about the process. An immigrant who has not yet begun the process of becoming a permanent resident may also want to consult an attorney about the path to permanent residency and eventual citizenship. For example, if the person has children or other relatives who are citizens or has certain job skills, they may be eligible to remain the United States. Another option may be if a person is eligible for asylum. For example, if they may face persecution due to their political beliefs on returning to their home country, they might be granted asylum and eventually apply for naturalization.