An individual born in the United States is automatically a US citizen A foreign national who wishes to be a U.S. citizen must go through the process of naturalization. In order to naturalize, an individual meets the following criteria. He or she must be admitted into the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident (LPR), live in the U.S. for at least five continuous years, reside in the state in which the petition is being filed for at least three months immediately prior to filing for U.S. citizenship, have a physical presence in the U.S. for a total of at least half of the period of required continuous residence, have continuous residence in the U.S. from the date of filing the naturalization application to the date of being sworn in as a U.S. citizen, have the basic ability to read, write, and speak English, have a basic understanding of U.S. history and government, have good moral character consistent with the values of the U.S. constitution, and be at least 18 years of age.

Being an LPR entails getting a green card. A green card is issued to all permanent residents as proof that they are legally authorized to reside in the United States. A green card can be used to show employment eligibility in the U.S as well as to obtain a Social Security Card.

A person seeking to become a permanent U.S. citizen should obtain an immigrant visa. Most immigrants receive visas in the family-based or employment-based visa categories. Coming to this country based on family often requires a U.S. citizen to file an immigrant visa petition for a spouse, child, parent, or sibling. Another route is that a U.S. lawful permanent resident (i.e., green card holder) can file an immigrant petition for a spouse or an unmarried son or daughter. Employment-based immigration involves a U.S. citizen sponsoring certain workers for permanent jobs. U.S. law also permits prospective immigrants to sponsor themselves in limited fields. Additionally, U.S. law provides many specific immigrant categories, including an investor visa.

Currently, green cards are valid for 10 years, or two year in the case of a conditional resident. Green Cards need to be renewed prior to expiring.

Receiving a deportation order  does not necessarily mean there is no hope to stay in this country. An individual can challenge, appeal, or otherwise seek to stay a deportation order. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) handles deportations and removal proceedings. USCIS sends an individual a Notice to Appear, which will contain the details of why the proceeding has been initiated. The notice will also provide the date of the first hearing. The initial hearing is procedural, and the individual will receive information about his or her rights. At the end of the hearing, an evidentiary hearing is set.

The evidentiary hearing is when a federal immigration judge will hear the evidence against the individual. The government must show through clear and convincing evidence that the individual is removable from the United States. The individual will be able to present evidence, such as documents and witness testimony, in his or her defense. If your claim is denied, you can file an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals.

There is a statutory cap on the number of H-1B visa issued each year. If USCIS receives more than this number of petitions, it conducts a lottery.