Naturalization and Citizenship
What is naturalization?
Naturalization is the process by which individuals (Legal Permanent Residents) meeting certain requirements can seek U.S. Citizenship. In contrast, those individuals born in the United States are citizens by birth.
The form one files for naturalization is the N400. There is an interview that one has to attend for the naturalization process. USCIS informs the applicant of the time/date of the interview. Part of this process also involves taking an oral civics exam and a written English test. One must pass these tests before citizenship is granted. Sometimes there is are waivers available for this test depending on the applicants age, presence in the U.S., certain medical conditions, and length of stay in the U.S.
What are the naturalization requirements for Green Card Holders (Legal Permanent Residents)?
Currently there are some basic requirements:
- Must be a Legal Permanent Resident;
- Must be 18 years old;
- Must have good moral character;
- Must be able to read, write, and speak English;
- Must be able to pass a test on US history and government;
- Should have been residing in the US as a LPR for at least the last five years;
- Should have been physically present in the US for at least half of the five year period;
- Should not have disrupted continuous residence in the US for any of the last five years;
- Take an oath of Loyalty to the US given by the CIS or in a court in a naturalization ceremony and believe in the principles of the US Constitution.
I am a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR). What is the need for me to apply for citizenship?
The rights of a LPR and that of a Citizen do vary. One of the key differences is with regards to residency requirements. For example, should a US Citizen choose to leave the United States for two years for employment in another part of the world, he/she can return to the Unites States without having to demonstrate that they abandoned their residency in the United States. A Legal Permanent Resident (in a similar situation) risks the chance of having to prove that he/she did not abandon their residency. Permanent Residents can be removed (deported) from the United States for a number of reasons. legal infractions. Ultimately, it is your decision to pursue this option. Please contact me to discuss your case.
I have travelled outside the United States for more than 6 months but less than a year during the last 5 years. Can I still apply?
You may still be eligible,but you should contact an attorney to discuss the specifics of your case.
I am married to a USC and have had my green card for the last 3 years. Can I still apply for my citizenship?
Yes, you may apply presuming you meet the other requirements (which would need to be assessed). You should consult with an attorney to review all your options.
Can one acquire or derive citizenship?
Yes, if you are a child born outside of the U.S. and one of your parents is a United States Citizen, you may acquire U.S. Citizenship at birth. There are also certain requirements of residency that the US Citizen parent must meet. Requirements for Children born out of wedlock and adopted children are different and you should consult an attorney to discuss your case specifics.
What if I cannot take the test in English? Can I still apply for citizenship?
- Yes you may still apply for citizenship depending on whether you qualify for one the waivers for this requirement. The waivers are as such:
- If a person has lived in the United States as an Legal Permanent Resident 20 years and is 50 years of age.
- If a person is over 55 years of age and lived in the United States as Legal Permanent Residents for the last 15 years.
- Persons who have a mental impairment or are physically/developmentally disabled are exempt from the entire written/oral test.
- Persons who are over age 65 years and have lived in the United States as Legal Permanent Residents for the last 20 years are exempt from taking the Civics part of the exam.
What steps can I take to prepare for the test and improve my English skills?
You can take English language classes and practice the potential test questions and how to answer them. Sample Civic test questions are listed on the USCIS website.
What if I have a criminal or traffic infraction? Can I still apply for citizenship?
You may be still eligible to apply, however, the nature of infraction would need to be assessed. In addition, the steps you have taken to rehabilitate will also need to be assessed.
Each case is different. Please feel free to contact me at 1-800-348-1370 or email me at email@example.com to discuss your case.