Paths to citizenship – Do I have a path to citizenship? 

Immigration attorneys are often asked, “Do I have a path to citizenship?” The answer to this question is not a path to citizenshipsimple answer. In this blog, we explore some of the ways in which an immigrant may have a path to citizenship.

There are thousands of undocumented immigrants that have been living in the United States and working here for several years.  Some of these immigrants have raised families here, hold important jobs for many years and even have owned businesses here for long periods of time.

Immigration attorneys are accustomed to getting a lot of calls from some of these people. They often assume that just because they have been here for a long time they could easily become a citizen. This is not true.  Obtaining citizenship is a difficult process that involves many steps, and unfortunately not everyone is eligible.  The amount of time that one has been present in this country often holds less significance than many immigration clients tend to believe.

Obtaining legal status

In order to become a legal resident of the United States, or a Citizen of the United States, one must meet at least one of a set number of criteria.  In this blog we will discuss just a few of them.  If you or a loved one is seeking citizenship you should contact an immigration lawyer.

Below are just some of the ways to be legally present in the United States, this is not an exhaustive list:


A visa is a special permission to visit a country for some given number of time and typically for some specific reason. There are several types of Visa, that depend on different circumstances.

In the United States, the Visas that are available vary. However, not everyone is eligible for one.  It is important to note that a Visa is only temporary. While someone may be here under the terms of their Visa and thus be legally present in the country. But again, this is only temporary. Once that Visa has expired, then that person is subject to removal just like anyone else who is undocumented.


Asylum is a legal protection provided by a county that provides that the asylum seeker be allowed to remain in the country in order to escape a situation in their home country.

In order to reside in the United States through asylum, the immigrant must be seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to at least one of the following:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Membership in a particular social group
  • Political opinion
Green Card

A green card/permanent resident card allows for an immigrant to be permanently present and work in the United States.  This is not full citizenship however, because there are situations in which a Green Card can be revoked. For more information on this topic, click here to read about Green Cards.

Immigration law Is complicated and requires many documents, forms, and sometimes hearings before a judge.   Gilles Law has an immigration lawyer in Charlotte, that can assistant you with citizenship and other immigration needs.  Contact us today.