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What does it mean to be an American?

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Quick Answer

An American is a person who is either born in America, has American parentage or has become a citizen through naturalization. It is also possible to be an American and have citizenship in another country or countries, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

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Full Answer

Citizenship requirements for children born outside of the United States vary based on parentage, length of parents’ most recent stay in the United States, parents’ residency and age at which the parents left the United States. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website describes more unique citizenship circumstances and requirements for both biological children and citizens, including year of birth and age of adoption.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website gives eligibility requirements and describes the naturalization process in detail. This process includes filling in paperwork, having passport-sized photos taken, gathering supporting documents, completing biometrics (if applicable), passing a naturalization test and completing an interview. Naturalized citizens are also expected to have basic communication skills in English. If citizenship is granted by the USCIS, applicants take part in a ceremony swearing their allegiance to the United States. Full citizenship is granted after the ceremony. The oath of allegiance requires naturalized citizens to swear to support and defend the Constitution and U.S. law, denounce previous allegiances to other countries and defend the United States, either by bearing arms or other noncombatant service or commissioned work.

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