Naturalization and Citizenship
There are several important benefits to becoming a United States Citizen. These include the ability to petition for a permanent residence of specified family members, the ability to permanently reside and work in the U.S., protection from loss of status resulting from specified prohibited conduct, the right to vote, receive certain tax exemption(s), and travel with a U.S. passport.
- There are four basics avenues by which a person can become a U.S. Citizen.
- Birth in the United States;
- Birth abroad to at least one U.S. citizen parent (under certain circumstances);
- Naturalization; or
- Derivative citizenship through one’s parents.
In order to naturalize, an applicant must have been a permanent resident and resided continuously within the U.S. for at least 5 years immediately preceding the filing of a naturalization application (3 years for aliens who have been married to and living in marital union with a U.S. citizen spouse). Absences from the U.S. for more than 6 months or for more than 1 year could affect the residency requirement and it may be necessary to file an application to preserve residence for naturalization purposes to cover excessive absences. Regardless of absences, a naturalization applicant must have been physically present in the U.S. for at least one-half the required time period.
A naturalization applicant must also show that he or she is at least 18 years of age (with a few exceptions), has been a person of good moral character for the requisite time period, is and has been attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, has the ability to read, write, and speak English in simple words and phrases, and has knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, principles, and form of government of the U.S. In some cases, the English requirement may be waived and the applicant may use their native language to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, principles, and form of government of the U.S.