If you're from American Samoa, you probably know that you're a national, but not a full citizen, of the United States. You are eligible for a U.S. passport and can live and work in the U.S., but you're missing out on a number of other privileges of U.S. citizenship, such as:
- Voting in federal elections
- Running for elective office when citizenship is required
- Participating on a jury
- Eligibility for certain federal or law enforcement jobs that require citizenship
- Getting citizenship for your minor children who were born abroad
If you have lived in the United States -- including American Samoa -- continuously for five years, you can apply for full U.S. citizenship through naturalization. The rules are quite similar to those for lawful permanent residents who are seeking citizenship after five years of continuous residency.
You can apply for full citizenship if you meet the following criteria:
- Be 18 or older at the time of your naturalization application
- Have lived in the U.S. for five continuous years (time lived in American Samoa counts)
- Have lived in a USCIS district or state for at least 3 months when you file the application
- Have been physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months of the preceding five years
- Continuously reside in the U.S. from the date of your application until you are naturalized
- Pass a test showing you can read, write and speak English
- Pass a U.S. history and civics test
- Be a person of good moral character who is attached to the principles of the U.S. Constitution and who is well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States
How do I apply for naturalized U.S. citizenship?
To apply for naturalization, you will need to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, submit a fee (currently $640) and submit to biometrics testing (currently $85). (Biometrics testing consists of gathering your fingerprints, photo and other data required to run a criminal background check and for use in official documents.) Then, a naturalization interview with the USCIS is required.
After you have completed the above steps and the USCIS has processed your naturalization form, you will receive a decision. The decision may be to grant your application, deny it, or continue it. Continuing your application typically means you need to provide additional evidence or retake your English or civics test. If your application is continued or denied, don't give up hope. Your immigration attorney may be able to help you.
Once your application has been approved, you will need to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States in a naturalization ceremony. You cannot become a citizen without taking this oath.
If you're from American Samoa and are interested in becoming a full U.S. citizen, contact Yew Immigration Law Group. We have experience helping American Samoans naturalize in the U.S.