How to Become an American Citizen From South Africa


The United States has a long history of welcoming immigrants from all over the world. Over the last decade, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has optimistically welcomed 7.6 million people into the ranks of naturalized citizens, assimilating them into the USA.

Obtaining American citizenship is a crucial step in an immigrant’s life. Aspiring citizens must demonstrate steadfast commitment to the essential ideas that unite everyone as Americans. In return for their unwavering dedication, they will get the immersive benefits and possibilities of American citizenship.

1. Benefits of Becoming an American Citizen2. Types of U.S. Citizenship3. Understanding EB-5 Visa Program
4. Eligibility for South Africa Seeking U.S. Citizenship5. How to Obtain a Green Card6. The U.S. Citizenship via the Naturalisation Process

In this blog, we will explore the merits, various paths, application procedures, and eligibility criteria that enable you to take your journey toward American citizenship effectively.

1. Benefits of Becoming an American Citizen

Benefits of Becoming an American Citizen

Becoming an American citizen is a significant decision that involves acquiring legal status and is filled with countless benefits and prospects, reflecting the tremendous allure of the USA. Let’s explore strong reasons or benefits to opt for American citizenship:

1. Strong Democratic Participation2. Increased Employment Opportunities3. Unrestricted Travel Opportunities
4. Reunification of Families5. Rights Protection6. Educational Possibilities
7. Social Service and Compensation

1. Strong Democratic Participation

As an American citizen, you have the fundamental right to vote in federal, state, and local elections.

2. Increased Employment Opportunities

Citizenship in the US opens the door to a wealth of job opportunities, eliminating the need for employment authorization. It gives you the ability to work in a variety of sectors, generally with higher-level possibilities.

3. Unrestricted Travel Opportunities

Having an American passport as a citizen allows for easy international travel and expedited entrance into several countries.

4. Reunification of Families

Americans can sponsor family members for legal immigration, allowing their loved ones to be reunited. 

5. Rights Protection

You have constitutional rights as a citizen, including due process and equal legal protection. Within the legal system of the USA, your rights are protected and defended.

6. Educational Possibilities

Citizens can apply for government financial aid for higher education, including colleges and universities more affordable. Scholarships, grants, and educational assistance programs are available.

7. Social Service and Compensation

US citizens can access various social services and benefits, including Medicare and Social Security. These services offer financial security as well as healthcare coverage.

Becoming an American citizen is an opportunity to embrace a unique and gratifying way of life. 

Let’s uncover the various paths to obtaining US citizenship you must consider before planning your US citizenship journey. 

2. Types of U.S. Citizenship

1. Citizenship by Birth2. Citizenship via Derivation3. Immigration Through Family Members
4. Work-Based Immigration5. Refugee or Asylum Seeker6. Military Service
7. Marrying a US Citizen

The United States of America offers numerous ways for people to acquire U.S. citizenship, each offering distinct options for people looking to become citizens. Let’s explore these paths so you can identify the best for yourself:

1. Citizenship by Birth

One of the most simple paths to U.S. citizenship is birthright citizenship. Individuals born in the USA or to US citizens immediately gain US citizenship. This 14th Amendment principle ensures that anybody born in the USA is a US citizen, regardless of their parent’s citizenship status.

2. Citizenship via Derivation

Children under 18 who are adopted by US citizens and meet specific criteria may be granted derived citizenship. This procedure offers a shortened path to citizenship for adopted children, ensuring they share their adoptive parent’s citizenship.

3. Immigration Through Family Members

Specific family members of US citizens and lawful permanent residents (green card holders) can be sponsored for immigration, opening the path for them to become permanent residents. 

After getting a Green Card, family-sponsored immigrants can look for citizenship in the USA after a waiting time.

4. Work-Based Immigration

Through employment-based immigration schemes, skilled workers, investors, and persons with outstanding qualities can earn lawful permanent resident status. They can apply for US citizenship if they keep their permanent resident status.

5. Refugee or Asylum Seeker

Individuals given refugee or asylee status in the US can apply for lawful permanent resident positions and eventually US citizenship. This humanitarian path offers refugees for individuals fleeing persecution in their nations.

6. Military Service

Serving in the US military offers an expedited path to citizenship for qualifying non-citizens. Individuals who serve in the military can expedite the naturalization process and become citizens in a shorter time.

7. Marrying a US Citizen

Marriage to a US citizen offers the foreign spouse a path to US citizenship. This procedure entails acquiring a Green Card through marriage and applying for naturalization.

Understanding these pathways is the first step toward making an informed decision on the journey that best meets your objectives and circumstances.

The below section will explain the essentials of the EB-5 Visa Program that you may consider to obtain American citizenship.

3. Understanding EB-5 Visa Program

The EB-5 visa program is intended for foreign investors who are ready to invest a significant amount of money in a new commercial venture that would employ Americans. This investment opens the door to lawful permanent residency in the US, an essential step towards American citizenship. 

Let’s uncover the EB-5 visa program essentials that enable you to understand the US citizenship process better:

1. Job Creation and Investment

South African investors must invest a minimum of $1.8 million in a new business to be eligible for the EB-5 visa program. The minimal investment, however, is $800,000 if the project is done in a targeted employment area. Also, the investment must create at least ten full-time jobs for qualified Americans.

2. Application Procedure

Form I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Standard Investor) must be filled first, followed by Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status). Investors and their present family members can obtain conditional Green Cards once approved.

3. Conditional Removal

After two years, EB-5 investors must file Form I-829 (Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions) to have their Green Card conditions removed. This is a critical step in attaining legal permanent residency.

4. Path to US citizenship

South African investors can apply for US citizenship through the naturalization procedure once they have maintained their lawful permanent residence status and completed the residency criteria. This procedure usually consists of a citizenship test and an interview.

The EB-5 visa program offers South African investors a unique and systematic path to obtaining American citizenship, providing chances for prosperity, stability, and a bright future. 

Read on to find out the eligibility criteria that you must meet to acquire your US citizenship.

4. Eligibility for South Africa Seeking U.S. Citizenship

South African in USA | Citizenship by investment

The US citizenship process is governed by precise eligibility criteria established by US immigration authorities. Here, we will discuss significant measures that you must possess to move ahead in your application process:

1. Green Card Holder

Holding permanent resident status, also known as a Green Card, is a fundamental qualification for US citizenship. South Africans must first get a Green Card through family sponsorship, work, refugee status, or other permitted channels.

2. Permanent Residency

South African applicants must establish continuous residency in the US to be eligible for citizenship. This usually entails living in the US for at least five or three years if married to US citizens.

3. Physical Presence

Since absence from the country for an extended period can risk one’s eligibility for citizenship. Therefore, applicants must spend at least half the minimum resident period in America.

4. Solid Moral Character

Maintaining solid moral character is essential for eligibility. This includes following US laws, such as tax duties, and avoiding illegal conduct that could lead to disqualification.

5. English Language Awareness

South African applicants must demonstrate English language competency, including reading, writing, and speaking. An interview and testing method can be used to assess the English language requirement.

6. Study US Government and Past Events

Aspiring citizens must also demonstrate an understanding of the US government and past events. This criterion is assessed with a civic test in which applicants answer questions about the American political system and history.

The path to US citizenship is challenging, but understanding the qualifying requirements is the first step toward achieving your American citizenship goal

In the following section, we will navigate the steps you need to take to obtain a Green Card.

5. How to Obtain a Green Card

How to Obtain a Green Card

Obtaining a Green card is a coveted document that offers you lawful permanent residency in the US, paving the way to US citizenship. Let’s explore the procedure of obtaining a Green card:

1. Eligibility Evaluation

The journey starts with an eligibility check; you must be eligible for one of the several categories, which include family-sponsored, employment, or humanitarian programs. 

2. Petition Filing

A sponsor, such as a family member or company, usually files a petition on your behalf. The sponsor starts the process by demonstrating their financial ability to support you in the US.

3. Visa Accessibility

Green Cards have annual numerical limits. Your category, country of origin, and preferences categorization determine availability. The length of the waiting period varies; however, patience is a virtue.

Read about: 6 Travel Hot Spots Where U.S. Citizens Need A Visa

4. Submission of An Application

You can submit your Green Card application once a visa becomes available. Form I-485 is usually required if you are currently in the US or Form DS-260 if you are applying from abroad.

5. Interview and Biometrics

Following submission, you will be subjected to biometrics, including fingerprints, photographs, and a background check. Your eligibility is determined during a formal interview with US immigration officials.

6. Approval and Decision

If you are approved, you will be granted lawful permanent residence status. The Green Card is a physical representation of your path to US citizenship.

Your perseverance, combined with a thorough understanding of the procedure, sets the way for the promise of new beginnings in the land of opportunity.

Let’s explore the Naturalisation process to learn how to acquire American citizenship.

5. The U.S. Citizenship via the Naturalisation Process<

The U.S. Citizenship via the Naturalisation Process

Naturalization is how an immigrant to the US can become a citizen. Let’s discuss the stages involved that enable your path to get a smooth application experience:

1. Eligibility Evaluation

Before starting the naturalization process, make sure you fulfill the relevant qualifying requirements. Having awful resident status, exhibiting excellent moral character, and meeting residence and physical presence criteria at usual conditions.

2. Appointment for Biometrics

You will be arranged for a biometrics appointment after your application has been accepted. Your photo and signature will be taken during this appointment for security and background checks.

3. Civics and English Language Exams

The English language and civic exams are two significant components of the naturalization process. You must show your command of the English language by speaking, reading, and writing. The civics exam assesses your understanding of the US government and History.

4. Interview for Naturalisation

You will be summoned for a naturalization interview after completing your biometrics appointments and testing. A USCIS officer will analyze your application, ask questions about your history, and test your English and civics skills during this interview. This is also a chance for the officer to examine your character.

5. Pledge of Allegiance

You will be scheduled for a formal naturalization ceremony if you pass the naturalization interview and exams. You will take the oath of commitment at this ceremony, proclaiming your commitment to the US and renouncing any foreign allegiance.

By following this procedure, you uncover new options to become part of a varied and vibrant American society. Therefore, understanding and managing each step of the naturalization process is vital to reaching this extraordinary goal.

Embarking on the Path to American Citizenship: Moving Towards Bright Future

Obtaining American citizenship from South Africa entails traversing a challenging but worthwhile path. Understanding the qualifying standards, getting valid permanent residence status, and proving high moral character are vital for a hassle-free experience. Additionally, the naturalization procedure culminates in a monumental oath-taking ceremony, which includes English and civics examinations. 

American citizenship confers various benefits, including the opportunity to vote and increased chances for a job, education, and family reunion. This showcases the acceptance of American principles such as liberty, democracy, and equality. 

Take the first step towards your American dream today. Contact Passport Legacy and start your journey to US citizenship and the endless possibilities that await.


1. How long does it take to become a citizen of the US?

The time it takes to become a citizen of the US varies. In general, you must wait for five or three years if married to a US citizen after getting a Green card before applying for citizenship. 

However, processing timelines, individual circumstances, and backlogs can all impact the length of the naturalization process.

2. Can I hold dual citizenship in America?

Yes, the US typically accepts dual citizenship, which means you can be a citizen of both the United States and another country simultaneously. Since the rules regulating dual citizenship might differ, it’s critical to check the laws and regulations of both your native land and the US.

3. Can I apply for citizenship in the US if I have a criminal record?

Having a criminal record does not preclude you from applying for US citizenship. Certain criminal offenses, however, may limit your eligibility. 

It’s vital to speak with an immigration lawyer to learn how your situation may affect your citizenship application and to look into potential waivers or remedies.

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