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Becoming a US Citizen
The City of Fayetteville is proud to be a member of Cities for Citizenship, a national organization dedicated to encouraging and promoting citizenship for all eligible US permanent residents. To that end, we are working with organizations throughout the city to help make the naturalization process as accessible as possible.
If you hold US Permanent Resident Status (a "green card"), you are eligible to become a naturalized citizen of the United States. Many Permanent Residents may wish to become Naturalized US Citizens, and the City of Fayetteville encourages you to consider this important step for your future and future of your family.
Benefits of Citizenship
There are many benefits of being a citizen of the United States. While the US affords many rights to both citizens and non-citizens, some rights are reserved solely for American citizens, including*:
- Voting: Only US Citizens can vote in Federal elections. Most states also restrict the right to vote, in most elections, to US citizens.
- Bringing family members to the US: Citizens generally get priority when petitioning to bring family members permanently to this country.
- Obtaining citizenship for children born abroad: In most cases, a child born abroad to a US citizen is automatically a US citizen
- Traveling with a US passport: A US Passport allows you to get assistance from the US government when outside the United States
- Becoming eligible for Federal jobs: Most jobs with government agencies require US citizenship.
- Becoming an elected official: Many elected offices in this country require US citizenship.
*From A Guide to Naturalization, published by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Who is Eligible
Generally, to be eligible for naturalization you must:
- Be age 18 or older
- Be a permanent resident for a certain amount of time (usually 5 years or 3 years, depending on how you obtained your permanent resident status)
- Be a person of good moral character
- Have a basic knowledge of US government (take and pass the citizenship civics test)
- Have a period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States
- Be able to read, write, and speak basic English (pass the English test)
Getting Help: Citizenship Resources in Fayetteville
There are several organizations in Fayetteville that can help you in your path toward citizenship. Programs include English language classes, Citizenship classes, and legal resources that can help be sure you provide the proper information and documentation required.
Step One: Consult with an accredited immigration lawyer.
Canopy NWA offers free legal advice and guidance to immigrants wishing to become US citizens. Talking to an accredited immigration lawyer is an important first step to achieving citizenship. Everyone’s circumstances are different, and so the path to citizenship may be different. To set up a time to talk to legal counsel, you can call Canopy NWA at 479-717-7358.
Information about other legal resources in our area is available through the following links:
- Citizenship classes
- English language classes
- Legal assistance and information: at the bottom of the page are local legal resources for those with questions regarding citizenship or immigrant defense.
Getting help with costs: UARK Federal Credit Union
As part of Cities for Citizenship, The City of Fayetteville has worked with UARK Federal Credit Union to provide low-interest loans to immigrants to pay for the cost of the US Citizenship Test. UARK FCU offers unsecured loans up to $1,500 to qualifying immigrants at the special rate of just 7.9% interest.
You may apply for a loan online or in person. Be sure to list "citizenship loan" as the loan’s purpose.
The wrong information can hurt your application! If you need legal advice on immigration matters, make sure the person helping you is authorized to give legal advice. In America, a "Notary" (Notaria) is someone who witnesses the signing of legal documents, not an attorney. Only an attorney or an accredited representative working for a Department of Justice (DOJ) recognized organization can give you legal advice regarding your application for citizenship. Learn about how to avoid immigration scams.
- More about the Civics and English tests
- Links to downloadable study materials
- How Do I Become a US Citizen?: A guide for Permanent Residents provided by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
- A Guide to Naturalization: a publication provided by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
- Citizenship Resource Center: a website that offers tools and information about becoming a US Citizen.
- American Citizenship: a publication by the US State Department offering information about the benefits of becoming a US Citizen.