American passport

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
  • Derivative citizenship through one’s parents

The Naturalization Process

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.

Contact us today to learn more about your naturalization and citizenship options.

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I obtained a resident alien “green” card several years ago. What do I need to do to become a U.S. citizen?

Lawful permanent residents are not required to become American citizens. However, the right to vote and the ability to file immigrant petitions for family members are two benefits of citizenship that inspire resident aliens to naturalize at the earliest opportunity.

To become a naturalized citizen of the U.S., you must file a petition with the appropriate United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) Service Center and establish your lawful admission for permanent residence, minimum periods of residency and physical presence in the U.S., good moral character, an attachment to the Constitution, an understanding of the English language, and knowledge of American history and government (although the English language requirements may we waived for persons who have had their green cards for at least 15 years and for those with specified disabilities).

It formerly took as long as three years for USCIS to process naturalization applications and, although present USCIS policy requires processing most cases in no more than twelve months, many of my recent cases have taken as little as three months between filing and approval. Although legal representation by an attorney is not required for a naturalization case, an attorney may assist you by preparing and processing your case and determining which immigration laws are applicable to your circumstances. In that regard, USCIS will review your entire immigration and personal history during the naturalization process and, therefore, even minor law violations or immigration problems in your past may affect you and could even permit USCIS to begin proceedings to rescind your green card and/or remove (deport) you from the U.S.

Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation and discuss your immigration needs.

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