The Long Hard Road to a U.S. Passport
Byline: WILLIAM LOWTHER
GAINING American citizenship is a long and difficult process which involves several levels of checks and examinations.
It starts with a so-called 'green card', which is actually pink, and allows the holder to live and work in the U.S. as a resident alien.
Securing the card can take years, although a few are handed out to applicants who enter a government lottery.
Generally the cards go only to the close relatives of those who are already citizens or to those with qualifications that the Department of Justice believes will benefit the nation.
Currently, nuclear physicists, some university professors, aeronautical engineers and fully qualified nurses are in demand.
After living and working in the U.S. with a green card for five years, during which the card can be taken away and the immigrant deported if he commits a crime, it becomes possible to apply for naturalisation.
This process can again take two or three years to complete.
Along the way, a full FBI background check is made to ensure that no crimes have been committed, that all taxes and debts have been paid or are being paid, and that the applicant has not joined any groups or political parties considered to be anti-American.
Fingerprints are taken and the applicant must undergo a complete medical, including Xrays and blood tests, to prove he will not become a burden on the state's medical services.
Once these procedures have been completed the applicant meets a Department of Immigration examiner, to whom he must demonstrate a working knowledge of English and answer ten questions - picked at random from a list of 100 - on American history and culture.
The questions range from the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence to the number of years for which a senator is elected.
Migrants can retake the test until officials are satisfied. …