For many immigrants, the ultimate goal in coming to the United States is to become an American citizen. U.S. citizenship grants the right to vote, access to public benefits, access to an American passport, the ability to apply for jobs with the federal government, and the right to sponsor family members for permanent residency. Additionally, U.S. citizenship is the only protection against being removed or deported from the country. However, the process can be difficult. If you want to become a U.S. citizen and have questions, an experienced citizenship lawyer from Lotfi Legal can provide the guidance you need. 

Naturalization Requirements

Naturalization is the legal process for a lawful permanent resident to become a U.S. citizen. Permanent residents must file an application for naturalization with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

There are a number of requirements for starting the naturalization process, and they will differ depending on your situation. Some of the residency requirements include the following: 

  • You must have been a permanent resident of the United States for at least five years. However, if you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen, you may be eligible to apply in only three years.
  • Alternatively, you can apply for naturalization if you have served in the military for at least one year. 
  • You may apply for naturalization if you have been physically located in the United States for at least half of the last five years (or three years if you’re married to a U.S. citizen) and have lived in your current jurisdiction or state for at least three months prior to filing your application.

There are additional requirements, such as being at least 18 years of age, showing good moral character, and showing that you have not disrupted the continuity of your residence. A citizenship lawyer can evaluate whether you meet all of the requirements, help you complete the necessary paperwork, and submit your application to start the naturalization process. 

The Naturalization Interview and Test

In order to be naturalized, you will be required to attend an interview with a USCIS officer. The interview aims to ensure that applicants genuinely desire to become citizens of the United States and are qualified for citizenship. As a result, the officer will ask questions about your background and application. 

At the interview, you will be asked to take a test that consists of two parts: 

  1. An English test to demonstrate your ability to read, write, speak, and understand basic English. 
  2. A civics test covering important questions about American history and the U.S. government. 

Some older people who have been lawful permanent residents for more than fifteen years may be exempt from the English test and be able to complete the civics test in their language of choice. There are also exemptions for people who have certain medical or mental conditions.

If you pass the tests and the officer finds you eligible for citizenship, you will be given a date for your citizenship ceremony. At the ceremony, you will turn in your permanent resident card and take an oath of allegiance to the United States. 

Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship at Birth

A person may acquire U.S. citizenship through birth in two ways. First, they may be born on U.S. soil. Second, they may be born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent. This includes birth through surrogacy or through in vitro fertilization. Whether a U.S. citizen parent can pass down citizenship depends on a number of factors, including how long and when the U.S. citizen parent lived in the U.S. In rare circumstances, a grandparent can be substituted for the U.S. citizen parent in order to pass down citizenship. 

If you are a U.S. citizen, and your child is born abroad, we strongly advise that you apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad for your child at a U.S. embassy abroad so you can pass down U.S. citizenship to your child. 

Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship through Naturalization

A person may also acquire U.S. citizenship later in life if they are adopted by a U.S. citizen or when one of their parents becomes a U.S. citizen. 

Some people are already U.S. citizens, and they don’t even know it, so it’s important to speak to an immigration attorney about your situation. Our firm has successfully gotten citizenship for foreign nationals in the United States on nonimmigrant visas who did not know that they were already American citizens.

Interested in Becoming an American Citizen? Contact Lotfi Legal Today

The naturalization process isn’t easy. Whether you have basic questions, need help with the forms, or simply do not know where to start, we can help. Call or email us today to schedule an appointment.