Citizenship / Naturalization
Citizenship and Naturalization
There are many ways through which a person may become a U.S. Citizen. If a person is born on U.S. soil, he or she automatically becomes a citizen, regardless of the legal status of his or her parents, unless the person is born to foreign parents with diplomatic status. You may already be a citizen and not even know it. Depending on a number of factors, a person born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent or parents may acquire his or her citizenship by applying for a certificate of citizenship with USCIS or simply applying for a passport with the U.S. Department of State.
For those not born on U.S. soil or to U.S. Citizen parent(s), Citizenship can be obtained by going through the Naturalization process. A person who has been a lawful permanent resident for five years may file a USCIS N-400 Application for Naturalization. A person who received his or her green card through marriage to a U.S. Citizen, and is still living with and married to their U.S. Citizen spouse, may file for Naturalization three (3) years from the date the green card was issued. At the conclusion of the Naturalization proceedings, each applicant will have to attend an interview at their local USCIS Field Office.
There are a number of other very important requirements that a person must meet in order to be eligible to apply for Naturalization:
An applicant for Naturalization must be at least eighteen years old at the time of filing.
An applicant must have been physically present in the U.S. for at least half the time (at least 30 months) out of the five years prior to the Naturalization application. If the applicant is absent for more than six (6) months but less than one (1) year, such absence shall disrupt the applicant’s continuity of residence and may be an obstacle to obtaining U.S. Citizenship. However, an applicant can establish that he or she did not intend to abandon his or her U.S. residence during the time period in question. Absence for more than one (1) year will almost always be interpreted as an intention to abandon your U.S. residence. Applicants who have served or are serving in the U.S. armed forces or whom have or are employed by a U.S. governmental agency, may be eligible to apply for Citizenship under special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Good moral character
An applicant must show that he or she is a person who has possessed good moral character for at least five-years prior to his or her application for U.S. Citizenship (three years if applying as the spouse of a U.S. Citizen). Certain criminal convictions in the five years prior to the application will bar naturalization. Murder convictions are a permanent bar to naturalization, as are aggravated felony convictions on or after November 29, 1990. An immigration officer may examine the applicant’s record outside of the five (5) years immediately preceding the application for Naturalization and determine that the applicant is not a person of good moral character.
Examples that may demonstrate a lack of good moral character are:
- Any crime against a person with the intent to harm
- Two or more crimes for which the aggregate sentence was five (5) years or more
- Crimes involving moral turpitude
- Illegal gambling
- Failing to pay court-ordered child support or alimony payments
- Failure to pay backed-taxes
- Terrorist acts
- Various sex offenses
Often times, an applicant’s previous conviction, or a conviction which took place after the applicant became a permanent resident, may resurface during the Naturalization process. Depending on the type of crime committed and the length of sentence and or probation served, the applicant may find him or herself in deportation proceedings at their local Immigration Court. If you have a previous conviction or at any point in your life have had a run in with the police, the attorneys at Brown, Van Horn P.A. urge you to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to determine if and how your application for Naturalization may affect your future in the U.S.
Applicants must be able to read, write, speak, and understand English words in ordinary use. Applicants may be exempt from this requirement upon meeting these additional requirements at the time of filing:
- The applicant has been residing in the United States subsequent to a lawful admission for permanent residence for periods totaling 15 years or more and are over 55 years of age;
- The applicant has been residing in the United States subsequent to a lawful admission for permanent residence for periods totaling 20 years or more and are over 50 years of age; or
- The applicant has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, where the impairment affects the applicant’s ability to learn English.
U.S. government and history knowledge
An applicant for naturalization must demonstrate knowledge of the fundamentals of U.S. history and certain principles of U.S. government.
Applicants exempt from this requirement are those who, on the date of filing, have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, where the impairment affects the applicant’s ability to learn U.S. History and Government. Additionally, applicants who have been residing in the U.S. subsequent to a lawful admission for permanent residence for at least twenty (20) years and are over the age of 65 will be afforded special consideration in satisfying this requirement.
Oath of allegiance
U.S. citizenship is officially granted after the oath of allegiance is taken.
If you or your family member is considering becoming a U.S. citizen through Naturalization, you should contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Yuri Tsyganov, PL to discuss whether or not you or your family members are eligible to apply for Citizenship. We have extensive experience in dealing with complex Naturalization cases and will provide you with an honest opinion regarding your eligibility and chances of becoming a U.S. Citizen through Naturalization. Call for a Free Consultation today.