Citizenship Through Naturalization
There are three ways to acquire US citizenship – birth, derivation, or naturalization. The easiest way to acquire US citizenship is to be born on US soil. An individual who has lived in the US as a lawful permanent resident for 5 years may acquire citizenship through naturalization. Certain special situations, such as being married to and living with a US citizen for the last 3 years, may allow you to gain citizenship status even earlier. Citizenship status will extend to minor children that are currently living with you, who will automatically acquire citizenship through derivation.
When a person acquires citizenship, they also acquire certain rights, privileges, and responsibilities. You will have the right to vote along with access to loans, schools, and employment positions that require US citizenship. You will also have the right to petition for permanent resident status for parents, spouses, children, or siblings. At the same time, you will be expected to obey laws, serve on a jury when called upon, respect the rights and beliefs of others, and pay taxes.
Individuals with criminal convictions should consult with an attorney prior to the submittal of an application. Certain crimes may permanently bar naturalization. In other cases, it may be possible to show that individuals have gone through rehabilitation measures and now have good moral character. These types of cases are typically reviewed by the USCIS on a case-by-case basis.
To apply for citizenship through naturalization, an individual:
- Must be a lawful permanent resident
- Must be 18 years or older
- Must have established continuous residence over the last 5 years. This is called the statutory period. Applicants who have lived with these spouses for the last 3 years and are currently living with spouses who have had US citizenship for the last 3 years will have a 3 year statutory period. The three year period also applies to lawful permanent residents who achieved LPR status through marriage and were physically abused.
- Must be physically present in the US for at least half of the 5 year statutory period. (Spouses of US citizens will need to show physical presence for half of the 3 year period.)
- Must have lived in the state or USCIS district where the application is filed for at least three months prior to the application’s official filing date.
- Must have good moral character.
- Must be able to read, write, and speak English and pass a simple test of US History and Government. Certain exceptions exist based on age, duration of stay, or medical disabilities.
* To establish continuous residence, you must be able to prove that you haven’t left the country at any point during the period of continuous residence for over a year. Furthermore, if you didn’t leave for a year, but left for a period of 6-12 months, you will need to provide evidence that you did not abandon residence. It is highly recommended that you find proper legal representation if you fall under this category. (If you break continuous residence, you will have to wait 4 years and one day after you return to the US until you are eligible to reapply. The waiting period is 2 years and one day for the spouses of US citizens)
Our Role in Your Success
The ultimate goal of immigration to a new country is to become a citizen of that country. Upon gaining citizenship status, an individual is granted exclusive rights and recognized as a contributing member of our national community. Over the years, we have helped countless individuals achieve their dream of becoming US citizens. Many of these cases involved complex issues which threatened to result in denial or even deportation, but these clients decided to place their trust in our guidance and they eventually persevered. Once you have finally reached the stage where you are qualified to apply for citizenship, we will prepare all the necessary documentation and thoroughly prepare you for the required exam and interview. This will mark the culmination of your immigration process and we will be there standing with you till the end.