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What Does It Take To
Become a Citizen?
History of U.S. Citizenship
• For centuries, millions of people have
immigrated to the United States from all
over the world. But who was denied
their equal rights as citizens?
Naturalization Act- 1795
• Naturalization Act provides
citizenship to “free white persons”
Potato Famine- 1840s
• Irish Potato Famine spurs a mass
immigration to the United States
Naturalization Act- 1870
• The Naturalization act limited
American citizenship to “white
persons and persons of African
descent”, excluding Asians
Chinese Immigration- 1882
• The Chinese Exclusion Act restricts
Chinese immigration
14th Amendment
• Citizenship is granted to all persons
born or naturalized in the United
• Equal rights given to all citizensincluded slaves in the U.S.
Oriental Exclusion Act- 1924
• Oriental Exclusion Act prohibits
immigration from Asia, including
foreign-born relatives of U.S.
Korematsu v. U.S.- 1944
• The Supreme Court upheld the
decision that the internment of
Japanese Americans is
• Personal Responsibility and Work
Opportunity Act allowed Congress
to make citizenship eligible for
public benefits for immigrants
To Become a Citizen…
• There are two ways to become a United States
• 1. By birth—
• a. Born in any of the 50 states or District of Columbia
• 2. Born on American territory
• Puerto Rico or Guam
• c. Children born to non-U.S. citizens on American soil
To Become Naturalized…
• Sign a Declaration of Intention
• Interview with the USCIS (United States
Citizenship and Immigration Services)
• Take a citizenship exam 
• Oath of allegiance
Immigrants and Aliens in the U.S.
• Aliens vs. Immigrants
• Aliens: a noncitizen of the United States
• Immigrants: one who moves permanently to a new
Rights of Legal Aliens
• Legal Aliens:
• May stay in the U.S. without becoming a
• May hold jobs
• Own property
• Attend public schools
• Receive government services
• Carry ID cards
Rights of Citizens
• Citizens:
• Vote in elections
• Run for office
• Serve on juries
• Work a government job