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Naturalization in the United States

Naturalization is the act whereby an individual voluntarily and actively acquires citizenship, which is not his or her citizenship at birth. Naturalization is mostly common among migrants who have immigrated to a country and have willingly chosen to become a citizen of that country after meeting specific requirements.

The basic requirements for naturalization are full-time residency for a minimum period as required by the law, and a pledge to uphold that country's laws. In the United States, the Congress has the authority to prescribe a uniform rule of naturalization that is overseen by state courts. State court refers to any court of law having common-law jurisdiction and a clerk and seal.

Until 1952, the Naturalization Acts allowed only white persons to become naturalized as citizens of the United States. The initial parameters on naturalization were however set by the Naturalization Act of 1795 as 'free, white persons' who have been resident for five years or more. The period of five years was extended to fourteen years in the Naturalization Act of 1798, a part of the Alien and Sedition Acts. However, this was canceled in 1802.

The Naturalization Act of 1862 allowed any honorably discharged Army veterans to be liable for filing petition for naturalization, without having to file a declaration of intent, after only one year of residence in the United States. An 1894 law extended the same privilege to all honorably discharged 5-year veterans of the Navy or Marine Corps. The Fourteenth Amendment made all persons born in the U.S. citizens irrespective of their race. This was, however not applicable to the Asians at the time. The 1870 Page Act allowed naturalization of 'aliens of African nativity and to persons of African descent' only. The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act banned Chinese workers and specifically barred them from naturalization. The Immigration Act of 1917, (Barred Zone Act) extended those restrictions to almost all Asians. After the Spanish American War in 1898, Philippine residents were started to be counted as US nationals, but the Tydings-McDuffie Act 1934, or Philippine Independence Act, reclassified Filipinos as aliens, and set a quota of 50 immigrants per year.

The Magnuson Act, passed in 1943 was the first in the history of the United States to permit naturalization of Asians. The War Brides Act was passed in 1945, permitting soldiers to bring back their foreign wives. The Immigration Act of 1965 finally allowed all persons from all nations to be given equal access to immigration and naturalization. The other similar area of interest is Second Passport, Second Citizenship, Instant citizenship, Independent immigration, Diplomatic passport.

Source: www.coolimmigration.com