U.S. citizenship can be obtained either through birth or through a process called naturalization. Unless you were born in the United States, or your parents were United States citizens at the time of your birth, you must go through the naturalization process to obtain citizenship.
Aretz & Chisholm Immigration can be by your side along this journey toward U.S. citizenship. We will first confirm that you are eligible for citizenship, and then make certain that the required forms and documents are completed correctly. We provide sample test questions and answers to help you prepare for your English and civics tests. We will meet with you approximately two weeks before your interview to review what will be covered at the interview, so that nothing comes as a surprise. And finally, we will be with you at your final interview with USCIS. Contact us today to begin this process.
Citizenship from Birth
Almost all persons born within the United States (as well as U.S. territories) are U.S. citizens. Others who are born abroad to U.S. citizen parents and/or grandparents may also be U.S. citizens from birth. Additionally, children under the age of 18 may derive citizenship immediately under the Child Citizenship Act (CCA) if they are adopted by a U.S. citizen, or through a process called derivative naturalization.
Citizenship through Naturalization
If you are not a U.S. citizen from birth, you may acquire citizenship through an application process called naturalization. You must meet the following requirements to be eligible to naturalize in the United States:
- You are a lawful permanent resident;
- You are at least 18 years old;
- You have lived in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident for at least five years (or three years if you are married to a United States citizen);
- You were present in the United States for at least one half of those five years (or three years if married to a United States citizen);
- You have lived in the state in which you are applying for at least 90 days;
- You are able to speak, write and read English at a basic level;
- You do not have certain criminal convictions;
- You know the history and form of government of the United States; and
- You are willing to pledge your allegiance to the United States and accept the principles of the U.S. Constitution.
Note: Certain individuals are not eligible to naturalize even if they have met the above requirements. Even if a person has been an LPR for many years, they risk being removed from the U.S. if it is discovered that they have committed certain crimes, made fraudulent statements to gain an immigration benefit in the past, helped someone enter the U.S. illegally, or claimed at any point in the past that they were a U.S. citizen. Before you apply for citizenship through naturalization, it is very important to review your case with an experienced immigration attorney to confirm your eligibility.
How Do I Become A Naturalized U.S. Citizen?
To naturalize, you must submit an Application for Naturalization, or N-400. After submitting the application, you will be scheduled for an in-person interview with a CIS immigration officer. At this interview, the officer will review your application and administer English and Civics tests (unless an exception to the normal testing obligations applies). At the conclusion of the interview, if your case is granted, you will receive instructions about upcoming naturalization ceremonies and the swearing-in process. An applicant is not a U.S. citizen until being officially sworn in as a citizen. It takes on average between six and nine months for USCIS to adjudicate a properly submitted application.
What Are The Benefits Of Becoming A U.S. Citizen?
There are numerous benefits to becoming a United States citizen. Citizenship allows a person to petition for and bring family members to the United States. U.S. citizens cannot be deported, while LPRs can be if they are convicted of certain criminal offenses, regardless of how long they have lived in the United States. U.S. citizens can easily travel abroad on U.S. passports, they have the right to vote and they can hold positions in public office. Finally, LPRs have to renew their green card every ten years. Currently, the government fee to renew a green card is $450. In most cases it is in a lawful permanent resident’s best interest to naturalize as soon as they meet the basic requirements. Please contact Aretz & Chisholm Immigration to learn more about becoming a U.S. citizen.
Are there Any Waivers for the English and History Requirements?
You may waive one or more of the testing requirements if:
* You are unable to comply with the requirements due to a disability; or
* You are over 50 and have been a permanent resident for 20 years or more; or
* You are over 55 and have been a permanent resident for 15 years or more.