Citizenship Through Naturalization
An individual can obtain US citizenship by:
- Having been born in the United States
- Having been born abroad to at least one American citizen parent
- A process called naturalization
Hundreds of thousands of immigrants get US citizenship through naturalization each year. Becoming a US citizen through naturalization often begins when a foreign national obtains lawful permanent residence in the United States, usually with a “green card.” With the green card an immigrant has permission to live and work in the United States permanently, as long as no unlawful act is committed by the individual. Many green card holders want to become American citizens for a variety of reasons including:
- Ability to vote
- Green card holders can be deported, citizens cannot
- US citizens can sponsor other immigrants immediately
- Green card holders do not qualify for many federal government jobs which are for “US citizens only”
- No longer have to renew green card
- Can carry a US passport when traveling outside the US and remain outside the country for however long you want
NATURALIZATION & CITIZENSHIP REQUIREMENTS
To obtain US citizenship through naturalization, an applicant must be at least 18 and meet certain citizenship eligibility requirements including:
- Length of permanent residence
- Length of time physically present in the US
- Good moral character
- Some basic knowledge of the English language
- Basic knowledge of US civics.
Spouses of US citizens can take advantage of the marriage citizenship process and could be eligible for citizenship in just three years. For help in determining if you qualify for US citizenship, contact us for a free consultation.
Once it has been determined that the individual meets the citizenship requirements, they can apply for citizenship by submitting a US citizenship application, along with the required documentation and fees. However, one should take care in ensuring that they are not subject to deportation for prior immigration or criminal violations before sending anything to immigration officials. Your immigration lawyer will guide the immigrant through the process.
Once USCIS deems the citizenship application to be complete, the applicant will be asked to submit fingerprints for a background check. When the background check comes back, a citizenship interview will be scheduled. At the citizenship interview, the applicant will likely undergo a basic English and US civics exam (certain applicants may be able to waive some or all of these requirements). A lawyer is permitted to attend the citizenship interview with the applicant and is often helpful in advocating for the applicant.