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Residency, Green Cards and Naturalization

The United States is a nation of immigrants; anthropologists believe that even Native Americans (American Indians) crossed an early land bridge from Asia into North America. Many people who come to the United States choose to keep their citizenship, sometimes as a source of connection to their native country; sometimes because they see no need to become naturalized citizens. Those who choose this option can become legal permanent residents (LPRs), identified by the wallet-sized identification popularly known as the “green card.”

Many people, especially those who have made their homes in the United States, want to be able to enjoy the same benefits as native-born Americans. To do this, they can become naturalized citizens. A naturalized citizen holds all the rights and privileges afforded to any U.S. citizen, including the right to vote, the right to hold a U.S. passport, and the right to the protection of the U.S. government while abroad. The only right a naturalized citizen does not have, to all intents and purposes, is to become president or vice president of the United States. Naturalized citizens can hold Cabinet posts, however; two of the best known are former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright. There are a number of steps involved in applying for temporary residence, permanent residence, and naturalization.

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