By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – September 17th was formerly called “I Am An American Day” but in 1952 “Citizenship Day” became its official name. On that day those who seek citizenship are sworn in.

There are two ways to become a citizen – by birth or by law.

By birth, no action is required. Generally those seeking citizenship must be 18-years-old, a permanent resident, or having resided in the US five years prior to filing for application for naturalization.

There are other criteria involved such as marriage to a US citizen, a history of being of good moral character and no record of deportation. One also has to be able to read, write, speak and understand phrases in English and knowledge of the fundamentals of US history and government.

Newcomers must pledge to support the principles of the US Constitution and swear allegiance to the United States at a citizenship ceremony led by a federal judge – a day of tears and smiles.

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