What Are The Best Paths To Legal Citizenship Under Current U.S. Law?

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Whether you're currently residing in the U.S. or are hoping to immigrate soon, you may be wondering about the easiest and least expensive way to secure and maintain U.S. citizenship. With the elimination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and other paths to legal residency and citizenship, it can be a challenge to become a U.S. citizen. Read on to learn more about several of the most frequently-used paths to citizenship under current U.S. immigration law.

Work Visas

If you have a skill that is particularly in demand and get a job offer from a U.S. employer that is willing to sponsor you, you may be able to reside in the U.S. legally on a work visa. The length of time a work visa remains valid can vary based on a variety of factors, and when this visa expires, you'll be required to return to your country of origin. Overstaying a work visa will eliminate your ability to pursue citizenship, as well as your legal status in the U.S.

Family Visas

So-called "chain migration" involves a legal immigrant or newly-naturalized citizen who sponsors one or more of their immediate family members for legal residency. Unlike other types of visas, family visas don't require the entering immigrant to have any specific work experience or special skills, making it more accessible to a wider range of individuals.


Asylum requirements have been tightened over the past few years, making it more difficult to qualify for it. But for immigrants who are fleeing war-torn areas or who are at an especially high risk of being trafficked or killed if they don't leave their home country, an asylum claim can grant them temporary legal status in the U.S. Many who are initially granted entry on an asylum basis will eventually be able to pursue full citizenship.

The Importance of Avoiding Illegal Entry

The immigration process can be lengthy and complicated, which can make it tempting to go ahead and enter the U.S. while a visa application is in process, especially if you have family members or loved ones already living in the U.S. However, doing so could jeopardize your ability to ever enter the U.S. legally. Those who have entered illegally before filing a visa application must leave the U.S. before the visa can be processed, while those who are subject to deportation proceedings after staying in the U.S. illegally for more than a year can be barred from re-entry for an entire decade. 

To learn more about becoming a U.S. citizen, contact an immigration citizenship attorney in your area.