NATURALIZATION & CITIZENSHIP

Immigration can change many different aspects of your life and once you have a green card, how and when can you become a US citizen through naturalization? The process of becoming a citizen of the United States through Naturalization has become increasingly complex, lengthy and expensive. In the past it was just 5-8 pages long and the government filing fee was under $200. It took about 180 days to get an interview. Today, the N-400 form is 20-pages long with 18 pages of instructions. The government filing is $725 and interview can take from 6-24 months.

If you were born in the U.S., did you acquire US citizenship through parents?

Any child born in the U.S. acquires U.S. citizenship at the birth even if the parents are not citizens, even when the mother child's mother was in the U.S. illegally. This benefit is not available to children born in the U.S. whose parents were foreign diplomats in post in the U.S. 

If you were born outside of the U.S., did you acquire US citizenship through parents?

If you were born abroad to U.S. citizen parents, you probably are a U.S. citizen. However, you need to get some paperwork to prove this. Parent(s) should report the child's birth at the nearest U.S. embassy. The U.S. embassy or consulate will issue a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA)

Can I get U.S. Citizenship through Grand Parents? 
Under certain conditions, U.S. Citizenship may be claimed through Grand Parents who were citizen at the time the parent was born. This is the doctrine of “Double Constructive Retention” 

The law on citizenship has gone through many changes since its inception. Call our office to have an attorney analyze your particular circumstances to determine whether you could claim your citizenship through your parents or grand parents. 

Importants to become a U.S. Citizen?

If you are currently a lawful permanent resident, you may renew your green card as many times as you like to ensure that you are able to stay in the U.S. however, there are also advantages to becoming a U.S. citizen. Below are a few reasons why people choose to apply for citizenship.

When you become a citizen, you have:

  • Protection from deportation.

  • The ability to sponsor family members.

  • The right to vote.

  • Freedom to travel without restriction.

  • The ability to serve on a jury.

  • The ability to apply for government jobs.

  • Obtain government benefits.

  • The ability to become an elected official who can run for federal office.

GENERAL RESOURCES

Am I Eligible For Citizenship?

In order to qualify to begin the naturalization process, you must meet certain basic eligibility standards.

These requirements include the following:

  • Unless you are a minor who has been adopted by a parent who is a United States citizen, you must be at least 18 years old.

  • You must have an upright moral character and an attachment to the principles contained in the United States Constitution.

  • You must be able to speak, write, and read English.

  • You must have a familiarity with the history of the United States and its government.

There are also residency requirements:

  • You must have been a law-abiding resident of the United States for at least 5 years. This may be broken if you decide to travel and stay out of the U.S. for over a year. Even a 6-month absence may be noticed.

  • Out of the 5 years, you must be physically present in the U.S. for 30 months prior to the date of filing the application

  • You must have resided in the State you are filing in for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing your application.

Naturalization and the Oath of Allegiance

Naturalization

A lawful permanent resident who 

  •     Is at least 18 year of age,

  •     is a person of good moral character,

  •     is in good command of English language

  •     has adequate knowledge and understanding of American history and the system of government

  •     has  resided continuously as a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. for at least 5 year prior to filing during which (s) has not stayed overseas for any period longer than 6 months and has been physically present in the U.S. for 50% of that time. A resident who obtained the resident status through the marriage to a U.S. citizen must have been in that status for at least 3 years with the physical presence of at least 18 months.

Also, the 5 year residence provision will not apply if the applicant has served the U.S. Armed Forces for at least three years or if (s)he has served the U.S. Armed Forces during World War I, World War II, Korea War, Vietnam War or Persian Gulf War. The same privilege is accorded to widow(er)s of U.S. citizen who died during a period of honorable active duty service in the U.S. Armed Forces. 
 
Also qualified will be 

  • Applicant who has served on a U.S. vessel and have been a permanent resident for the past five years

  • Applicant who has worked under contract with the U.S. Government and have been a U.S. permanent resident for the past five years

  • Are a person who performs ministerial or priestly functions for a religious denomination or an interdenominational organization with a valid presence in the U.S., and have been a U.S. permanent resident for the past five years


You are a spouse of a U.S. citizen who is one of the following: 

  • A member of the U.S. Armed Forces

  • An employee or an individual under contract to the U.S. Government An employee of an American institution of research recognized by the Attorney General

  • An employee of a public international organization of which the United States is a member by law or treaty

  • An employee of an American-owned firm or corporation engaged in the development of foreign trade and commerce for the United States 

  • A person who performs ministerial or priestly functions for a religious denomination or an interdenominational organization with a valid presence in the United States

 

Oath of Allegiance

Most applicants for citizenship must take a test as part of obtaining U.S. citizenship. The naturalization test measures your ability to speak English and your knowledge of U.S. history and government. You may be exempt from taking one or both parts of the test for a number of reasons, including:

  • You are age 50 or older and have lived in the U.S. as a permanent resident for 20 years

  • You are age 55 or older and have lived in the U.S. as a permanent resident for 15 years

  • You suffer from physical disability, mental impairment, or medical disability

As part of applying for naturalization, you must take an oath of allegiance in a public ceremony. Modifications may be made to this step as others during the application for citizenship. Depending on your situation, you may qualify for an exemption or waiver that may make the citizenship process easier.

 
 
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If you need help, contact our immigration attorneys at Arlington Law Office, who can guide you or your loved one through each step of the way.