• Obtaining U.S. Citizenship:

    naturalization

    Naturalization refers to the process by which permanent residents (green card holders) may becomes U.S. citizens.
    Most applicants become eligible for naturalization when they accrue the requisite residence period (5 or 3 years depending on category, see below) as green card holders, as long as all the other eligibility criteria are satisfied. Below you will find a general summary of different paths to U.S. citizenship, eligibility requirements, and a discussion of common issues associated with Naturalization cases.


    General categories for qualification for naturalization:

    • An applicant has been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and meet all other eligibility requirements.
    • An applicant has been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen.
    • An applicant has qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements. Members and veterans of the U.S. armed forces, and their dependents may be eligible for citizenship under special provisions of law. Immediate relatives of U.S. armed forces members who die as a result of combat while in an active duty status may be eligible for certain “survivor” immigration benefits, including citizenship.  For more information, see the “Family Based Survivor Benefits” link to the left. If you believe to belong to this category please contact us by clicking here for a detailed analysis of your particular situation.
    • An applicant is a child and may qualify for naturalization if the parent is a U.S. citizen, the child was born outside the U.S., the child is currently residing outside the U.S., and all other eligibility requirements are met. A child may automatically becomes a U.S. citizen if biological or adoptive parent(s) became U.S. citizens before the child reached an age of 18. If you believe to belong to this category please contact us by clicking here for a detailed analysis of your particular situation.

     


    Eligibility requirements for an applicant who has been a permanent resident for at least 5 years:

    • Be 18 or older at the time of filing
    • Be a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing for naturalization
    • Have lived within the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing the application
    • Satisfied the continuos residence requirements for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application, and after the filing for naturalization up to the time of naturalization
    • Satisfied the physical presence requirements for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
    • Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (civics).
    • Be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law


    Eligibility requirements for an applicant has been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and is a spouse of a U.S. citizen:

    • Be 18 or older
    • Be a permanent resident (green card holder) for at least 3 years immediately preceding the date of filing of application for Naturalization
    • Have been living in marital union with the U.S. citizen spouse, who has been a U.S. citizen during all of such period, during the 3 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application and up until examination on the application
    • Have lived within the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least 3 months prior to the date of  filing the application
    • Satisfied the continuos residence requirements for at least 3 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application, and after the filing for naturalization up to the time of naturalization
    • Satisfied the physical presence requirements for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
    • Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (also known as civics)
    • Be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during  all relevant periods under the law


    Typical steps in the process of application for Naturalization: 

    • Determine if you are eligible to apply for citizenship.
    • Collect the necessary documents and prepare and file the application with USCIS
    • Receive an appointment letter for biometric services from USCIS
    • Visit a USCIS fingerprinting location and have fingerprints taken
    • Receive an appointment for an interview with a USCIS Officer, or receive request for additional proof or meeting a specific requirement before the interview notice, or at the interview. Once the request is satisfied more to the next step
    • Prepare for interview and English and Civics tests
    • Go to your local USCIS office at the specified time
    • Answer questions about your application and background
    • Take the English and Civics tests
    • Await a decision on your case

     

    Applicant may be eligible to skip the English test if she is over 50 and lived in the US for 20 years or more as a permanent residence or if the applicant is over 55 and lived in the U.S. for 15 years or more as a permanent resident. (50/20 and 55/15 rules).
    A Medical Certification for Disability Exception may help waive the English test and the Civic requirement – it requires a physician’s certification.


    Common issues in Naturalization cases:

    Applicants will face resistance and in certain cases denials from U.S. government in applying for naturalization in many circumstances including but not limited to when applicant has taken long/multiple trips outside the U.S. as a permanent resident; when the applicant has not accumulated enough physical presence in the U.S. prior to naturalization; if the applicant demonstrated or demonstrates intent not to reside in the U.S. on a permanent basis, if the applicant failed on prior or current tax or child support obligations; if the applicant has a prior criminal history or is otherwise fails to demonstrate good moral character; when an applicant is not ready to support the principles of the U.S. Constitution; or if applicant has previously been a member of, or involved with, a certain organization or organizations ideologically detrimental to U.S. government interest as specified by prohibitions to naturalization in the Immigration and Nationality Act.


    Determinations of abandonment of permanent residence:

    In certain cases determinations may be made by USCIS officers that an applicant has not maintained permenant residence or that the applicant abandoned permanent residence based on, among other circumnstances, an applicant’s intent to permanently live in another country; applicant remaining outside the U.S. for long periods of time, when an applicant fails to file income tax returns or if an applicant declares “nonimmigrant” status on tax returns while in the U.S. If a determination of abandonment has been made, the applicant may be brought before an immigration court to determine rights to remain a permanent resident of the U.S.

     


    The forms currently used to file for naturalization in the United States are short, however in many cases meeting requirements for naturalization and going through the analysis for eligibility takes considerable foresight. Please contact us to discuss your particular situation and eligibility before your application for naturalization is made.