United States Citizenship / Naturalization
Many immigrants share the common goal of ultimately becoming a U.S. citizen. In fact, U.S. citizenship offers many benefits. There are two ways in which an individual may obtain citizenship:
By Birth –being born in the United States or being born to parents who are U.S. citizens. Note: Children under the age of 18 who are adopted by U.S. citizen parents and migrate to the U.S. are granted immediate citizenship.
By Naturalization – Naturalization is a process by which foreign nationals who are not born in the U.S. may acquire citizenship.
- Only a citizen has the right to vote in the U.S.
- Citizens may travel freely to certain countries without the need of entry visas.
- Citizens may reside outside the country without having to worry about issues such as renewing permanent resident status or applying for re-entry permits.
- Citizens may sponsor their immediate family members (spouse, children, parents, brothers and sisters) for permanent residency.
- Citizens may not generally be removed or deported from the U.S. (certain exceptions do apply).
- Citizens are eligible for financial aid, scholarships, food stamps and SSI (Supplementary Security Income).
- U.S. citizens may reside overseas in another country and receive social security benefits.
In order to be eligible for citizenship, one must meet the following requirements:
- Must be at least 18 years of age at the time of filing.
- Applicant must be a U.S. permanent resident and have continuous residence in the United States for five (5) years. Spouses of U.S. citizens must only have three (3) years of continuous residence. Generally, absence from the United States for a period of more than 6 months at a time breaks the continuous resident requirements. Exceptions may apply to U.S. military individuals in active duty during the time of war.
- Physical presence in the United States for at least half of the required period of time (2 .5 years for most individuals and 1.5 years for spouses of U.S. citizens).
- A minimum of three (3) months residency (prior to filing of application) in the state in which the application is being filed.
- Applicant must demonstrate capacity to speak, write and read English.
- Applicant must demonstrate basic knowledge of U.S. history and government.
- Applicant must possess good moral character.
- Applicant must be willing to take an oath of allegiance to the U.S.
The Naturalization Process
There are basically three steps in the process to become a citizen by naturalization
- On behalf of the applicant, our firm prepares and files the "Application for Naturalization" with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- The USCIS issues a receipt notice (Notice of Action) and begins to process the case. Thereafter, the applicant will be scheduled for fingerprinting.
- USCIS notifies the applicant to appear for an interview. At the interview, the applicant will be tested on basic knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government. The applicant will also be evaluated on the ability to read, write and speak English.
- U.S. permanent residence status holders over the age of 55 residing in the U.S. for more than 15 years are exempt from the English reading and writing examination. These individuals are eligible to take the U.S. history and government test in his or her native language.
- U.S. permanent resident holders over the age of 65 residing in the U.S for the past 20 years are also exempt from the English test. These individuals are eligible to take the U.S. history and government test in his or her native language. Moreover, persons over age 65 are subject to testing on different questions (scaled down) to assess their knowledge on U.S. history and government.
- Upon passing the exam, the applicant will participate in the oath ceremony by pledging allegiance to the U.S. and will receive a naturalization certificate.