What does it take to become a U.S. citizen? - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

What does it take to become a U.S. citizen?

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With President Trump's recent decision to end DACA and order congress to find a solution, one question crossed the minds of several people: Why don't DACA recipients apply for U.S. citizenship?

For immigration attorney Amber Blasingame with Hanes & Bartels LLC in Colorado Springs says that answer is complicated.

"DACA is not a path to citizenship," said Blasingame 'it's not even a path to permanent residence, in truth it's not a status at all. I usually refer to it as a benefit or even a program." 

"DACA was not a permanent solution, it was a more or less something to kind of help them and tide them over until there was a more permanent solution, " said Blasingame "that's what deferred action it's a stop gap measure, really."

The DACA program in it of itself doesn't qualify an individual for U.S. citizenship, but it doesn't disqualify them for applying either. The steps however can be difficult since their parents immigrated to the United States illegally. 'That in it of itself can be a barrier to even go on to the next steps required for permanent residence," said Blasingame.

Speaking of permanent residence- this is the first step an individual must go through in order to obtain U.S citizenship. The process can be lengthy for both establishing permanent residence and then applying for U.S citizenship. 

The time to establish permanent residence varies from each person in Blasingame's experience as an attorney it's been "as little as 2-4 months to process their permanent residence, other times I've seen it take as many as much as 5-6 years." 

Generally, in order to receive permanent residence, an individual must have a sponsor- which would mean a family member that's a legal citizen and in some cases an employer- which is an entire other process to go through. 

The employer process requires the employer to prove that there are no U.S workers qualified for the person hired to do the job. It's done through a study of the recruitment process.

After the statutory time period with permanent residence, then the process begins to become a U.S citizen which means a series of steps including interviews and tests. 

Even then, the process is not a simple, stream-lined one. From start to finish Blasingame says it can take 6-7 years, which is even just with someone who's going through the proper channels from the beginning. For individuals entering the country unlawfully, the process can be even longer. 

Blasingame says in any given year she sees between 100-200 clients going through the naturalization process. She says, this year she feels that she's even seen an increase in people applying for citizenship. 

"There's a lot of unknowns out there, people who were just kind of waiting and didn't think it was as important decided that maybe this was the best time," said Blasingame. 

The U.S Citizen and Immigration Services also provides a guide to the process of naturalization which you can find here. 

Other resources available to people seeking naturalization include immigration attorneys and non-profits which provide several resources 

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