Citizenship and Naturalization
Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). During a consultation, the attorney at Landau, Hess, Simon, Choi & Doebley will carefully review the potential client’s eligibility for U.S. naturalization. If a green card holder applies for naturalization without being eligible, at the very least the applicant will lose the substantial amount of government fees and, at worst, she or he risks being deported from the U.S. This application for naturalization should therefore not be treated lightly and should only be undertaken after thorough analysis of eligibility.
The Constitution and the law of the United States give some rights to both citizens and non-citizens living in the United States. However, some rights are only for citizens, such as:
- Voting. Only U.S. citizens can vote in federal elections. Most States also restrict the right to vote, in most election to U.S. citizens.
- Bringing family members to the United States. Citizens have priority when petitioning to bring family members permanently to this country.
- Obtaining citizenship for children born abroad. In most cases, a child born abroad to a U.S. citizen is automatically a U.S. citizen.
- Traveling with a U.S. passport. A U.S. passport allows you to receive assistance from the U.S. government when overseas.
- Becoming eligible for Federal jobs. Most jobs with government agencies require U.S. citizenship.
You May Qualify for Naturalization if:
- You have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and meet all other eligibility requirements or, you have been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen;
- You have qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements;
- Your child may qualify for naturalization if you are a U.S. citizen, the child was born outside the U.S., the child is currently residing outside the U.S., and all other eligibility requirements are met; or,
- You may also qualify through other paths to naturalization if you do not qualify through the paths described on the links to the left.
Note: You may already be a U.S. citizen and not need to apply for naturalization if your biological or adoptive parent(s) became a U.S. citizen before you reached the age of 18.
Naturalization Eligibility Requirements for Green Card Holders
If you are a green card holder of at least 5 years (or 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen), you must meet the following requirements in order to apply for naturalization:
- Be a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application for citizenship (or 3 years if applying based on marriage to a U.S. citizen);
- Have lived within the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing the application;
- Have continuous residence in the United States as a green card holder for at least 5 years (or 3 years if applying based on marriage to a U.S. citizen) immediately preceding the date of the filing the application;
- Be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application (or at least 18 months out of the 3 years immediately preceding the date of filing if applying based on marriage to a U.S. citizen);
- Reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization up to the time of naturalization;
- Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (civics); and,
- Be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law.
Complicated factors for eligibility include any extended absences from the U.S., even seemingly minor criminal offenses, history of financial support of dependents, and the required knowledge of English language, history and civics. We at Landau, Hess, Simon, Choi & Doebley have the expertise to guide individuals through every step of the naturalization process, regardless of complexity.