One of the most rewarding experiences for an immigration lawyer is to see their clients become U.S. citizens. However, in many cases the naturalization process is not easy and straightforward as one would like. It takes a skilled attorney to handle the more challenging cases.
If you are over 18 years old and want to become a citizen you most likely will have to go through the naturalization process to become a U.S. citizen. You must fulfill one of the requirements below to be eligible for naturalization.
- You have permanent residence status for 5 years and you have lived in the U.S. for those five years
- You have asylum and you have lived in the U.S. for 4 years
- You are the spouse of a U.S. citizen and you have lived in the U.S. for 3 years
- You are a permanent resident, have served in the U.S. military, and have lived in the U.S. for 3 years.
Moreover, you must satisfy the following requirements as well.
Residence and Physical Presence
In order to qualify, the applicant may not have any single absence from the U.S. of more than one year. Absences of more than six months but less than one year are considered to disrupt the applicant’s continuity of residence unless the applicant can establish that he or she did not abandon his or her residence during such period.
Good Moral Character
An applicant for citizenship must be a person of “good moral character” during the required permanent residency period. Persons who have been convicted of aggravated felonies (committed on or after November 29, 1990), or who have ever been convicted of murder, are permanently barred from applying for citizenship on this basis. Any applicant with a criminal record should consult an immigration attorney prior to applying for citizenship, because many crimes that make a permanent resident ineligible for citizenship also make him or her deportable as well. However, not all crimes result in a permanent bar to citizenship, and not all crimes will prevent a finding of “good moral character.”
Knowledge of English Language, U.S. History and Government
At the time of the naturalization interview a test is given to determine the applicant’s basic knowledge of English, U.S. History, and Government.
Persons who are over a certain age and have been present in the U.S. for very long periods of time, and persons who demonstrate that they have a physical or mental impairment which affects their ability to learn English may be exempt from these requirements.
Loyalty to the United States
Once an applicant is approved for naturalization, he or she must take the oath of allegiance in a ceremony actually conferring citizenship.
Some of the greatest benefits of becoming a U.S. Citizen include the right to vote, freedom of traveling throughout the world on a U.S. passport, and of course immigration benefits. Unlike permanent residents, U.S. citizens are permitted to petition for their parents, siblings, or for their married children.
Contact us to learn more about the benefits of becoming a citizen, and begin the naturalization process with an experienced immigration law firm.