U.S. Citizenship Lawyer
Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Our qualified immigration lawyers will help determine if naturalization is the appropriate process.
You May Qualify for Naturalization if:
- You have been a lawful permanent resident for at least five years and meet all other eligibility requirements.
- You have been a permanent resident for three years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen.
- You have qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements.
- Your child may qualify for naturalization if you are a U.S. citizen, the child was born outside the United States, the child is currently residing outside the United States, and all other eligibility requirements are met.
If you qualify for naturalization, you will need to complete appropriate forms and submit them to the USCIS. An immigration attorney can help you file the proper forms to minimize mistakes. Once the USCIS receives your application, you will receive the number that will allow you to check the status of your application on the USCIS website. You will initially be invited for a fingerprinting appointment at your local Application Support Center. After the USCIS conducts your fingerprinting and background investigation, you will receive a letter from USCIS scheduling you for your interview and naturalization test. If you pass your citizenship examination, you will be invited for an official oath of allegiance to become a U.S. citizen.
Generally, if you have been a U.S. lawful permanent resident for at least five years, you can apply for naturalization. Our immigration lawyers will make sure you meet the following criteria:
- You must be at least 18 years old;
- You must have lived in the state where you are filing for at least three months;
- You must have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months of the preceding five years;
- You must reside in the United States continuously while your application for naturalization is pending;
- You must be of good moral character and “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;”
- You must read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government.
Your ability to speak English must be demonstrated in an interview with immigration officials, where your ability to read and write English and your knowledge of U.S. civics will also be tested. To pass the naturalization test, you must be able to read one out of three sentences in English, must correctly write one out of three sentences in English, and must correctly answer six out of 10 U.S. civics questions. You can prepare for the naturalization test by obtaining an educational pamphlet that contains all the information you need to know for your civics test and your language test.
Our experienced immigration attorneys can help you apply for naturalization and can provide study materials for the exam.
Citizenship through Parents Who are U.S. Citizens
Under the Child Citizenship Act, children of U.S. citizens (either by birth or naturalization) automatically become U.S. citizens.
Birth to U.S. Citizen Parent /Parents
In many circumstances, even though a child is born outside the United States, if at least one parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth, the child automatically “acquires” citizenship. When this child marries and has children, those children may also acquire U.S. citizenship at birth. If you have questions, contact an experienced immigration attorney.
Parents of an Individual under 18 Years of Age Become Citizens
When parents become naturalized U.S. citizens, their minor children with green cards gain U.S. citizenship automatically. (Children under the age of 18 cannot normally apply to become naturalized U.S. citizens.) To qualify, the child must be under 18, must have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen and must be residing in the United States, in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent(s).
When a parent naturalizes, his or her children may “derive” U.S. citizenship automatically, provided they have green cards and are under age 18 and living with the parent at the time. Becoming a U.S. citizen in this way has a special benefit: A child who gets U.S. citizenship through the naturalization of either or both parents does not have to participate in a naturalization ceremony.
Individual Whose Parents Are Not Citizens
If an alien child was born outside the United States and is the child of one citizen and one alien parent, the alien child can be included in the naturalization petition of his alien parent if the child is unmarried and under age 18. He or shemust also be a permanent resident and reside in the United States prior to the eighteenth birthday. The usual residence requirements do not apply in this situation. Working with an immigration lawyer will make sure all requirements are met.
Child Citizenship Act of 2000
The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows certain foreign-born, biological, and adopted children of American citizens to acquire American citizenship automatically. These children do not acquire American citizenship at birth, but they are granted citizenship when they enter the United States as lawful permanent residents (LPRs).
The child must meet the following requirements:
- Have at least one American citizen parent by birth or naturalization;
- Be under 18 years of age;
- Live in the legal and physical custody of the American citizen parent; and
- Be admitted as an immigrant for lawful permanent residence.
In addition, if the child is adopted, the adoption must be full and final. Whether a child’s adoption is “full and final” for purposes of the Act depends on the circumstances of the adoption.
The effective date of the Child Citizenship Act is February 27, 2001. Children who meet the requirements of the Act on that date automatically became U.S. citizens. Children who were 18 years of age or older on that date did not acquire U.S. citizenship from the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
There is a special provision for children not residing in the United States when the law takes effect; the U.S. State Department states: “Children who acquire citizenship under this new provision do not acquire citizenship automatically. They must apply to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (USCIS) and go through the naturalization process.”
No application is necessary; however, our immigration attorneys can help you obtain a Certificate of:
- Citizenship to verify that your child is a U.S. citizen.
- Citizenship Through Spouse After Being a Permanent Resident for Three Years
When an alien marries a United States citizen, the alien is allowed to apply for citizenship three years after the date when the alien’s Adjustment of Status was approved, provided the alien does not incur any criminal convictions during that period. However, it is important that the three-year period does not comprise of long periods spent outside the United States.
With some exceptions, applicants must take an examination to demonstrate their knowledge of civics and history, as well as a fundamental understanding of how to read and write in English. The final step, once the examination has been passed, is to take the oath of allegiance.
Once an individual has become naturalized, it is very important that he or she notifies the social security administration (SSA). This is to make sure that other government agencies are aware of the citizenship status from the central SSA computer, rather than having to prove it on numerous occasions to individual agencies. Our immigration lawyers will help you complete each step in its entirety to ensure a successful naturalization process.
However, marriage to a U.S. citizen does not guarantee that an alien will be able to receive naturalization. As a matter of fact, an alien may be denied permanent residence, let alone naturalization, if he or she remained in the country illegally prior to marriage to a U.S. citizen.
An alien’s chances of becoming a naturalized citizen, where that individual gained lawful permanent resident status through marriage to a U.S. citizen, may be affected if that marriage ends in divorce. Although the applicant is not required to live with the U.S. citizen spouse after filing the application, they still must be married at the time of naturalization. But for all practical purposes, if the alien is not living with his or her spouse at the time of the naturalization interview, USCIS will highly scrutinize the alien’s eligibility.
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