Adopted kids or kids born outside the US to citizen parents automatically become citizens. Same goes for kids with green cards whose parents become citizens before they turn 18. Otherwise, you have to be 18 or older. You also have to be a permanent resident for at least five years, and have a permanent resident card (aka a green card) to prove it. Getting one can cost more than $1,000. Or you have to have to been married to a US citizen for at least three years. Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds in "The Proposal" does not fly. You also have to read, write, and speak basic English, go through a lengthy interview process, and know the basics of US history and how the government works. Think: "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?" but harder. You also need to have never deserted the US Armed forces and have "good moral character." Not subjective at all.
There are steps. Like filling out a Form N-400, and sending it along with documents that include a photocopy of a permanent resident card, a cash money check of more than $600, and photos of yourself. You also have to go through a longgg interview process.
These are for companies who want to bring highly-skilled people to work in the US temporarily (hint: STEM types). Every H-1B visa holder has to be sponsored by his or her employer. 85,000 H-1B visas are issued each year. They're handed out by lottery, and the demand is always wayyy more than the number the US gives out. Supporters say 'Murica doesn't have enough STEM grads to meet the demand for programmers and engineers, so this visa fills the gap. Critics say H-1B visas need to stay capped because it they take away jobs from American workers. H-1B visa holders usually stay for about three years, and either renew or go home.
Both are non-immigrant visas – meaning they have nothing to do with becoming a US citizen. H-1B visas are for US companies looking to hire foreign pros in high-skilled jobs on a temporary basis. L-1 visas are for foreign workers (specifically managers or higher-ups) to temporarily transfer within their company to the US. They can't switch employers, but their spouses can also work in the US on this visa.
About 50% of undocumented immigrants come from Mexico, though that number's been going down in recent years. The majority of the rest come from Central and South America.
Under the Constitution, kids born in the US are automatically US citizens. Their parents are not. When a citizen child turns 21, he or she can sponsor the parents to legally immigrate to the US.
It's a process. There are 20 steps that include an interview with the UN, the State Department, and a Homeland Security officer. Plus, several background checks, fingerprint screenings, and cultural orientation classes. Critics of President Trump's plan to introduce "extreme vetting" say the process is already extremely extreme – with multiple US agencies involved in a series of invasive interviews that take years to complete. Supporters say it's worth putting refugees through more vetting if it prevents just one more terrorist from coming to the US.
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