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U.S. Citizenship & Naturalization

People in the United States obtain citizenship by either birth in the United States or through derivative status or by naturalization. Green Card holders or permanent residents in the United States get their citizenship by naturalization subject to some rules and limitations. Obtaining citizenship in the United States is very important for permanent residents because they cannot be deported from the United States even if some deportable crimes are committed in the United States.

Citizenship by Birth in the United States or Certain Territories or by Acquisition of Citizenship:

Anybody born in the United States automatically obtains a U.S. citizenship. Also, persons born in the incorporated territories of the United States are also U.S. citizens. Additionally, a child born outside the United States to at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen may be considered a U.S. citizen by birth.

Derivative Citizenship Through a Naturalized or U.S. born Citizen of at Least One Parent:

According to Child Citizenship Act of 2000, a child may obtain derivative citizenship through at least one parent who is a citizen by birth or naturalization as long as the child is under 18 years of age, the child is a lawful permanent resident and the child is in the United States in legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent. Children born out-of-wedlock are also qualified for derivative citizenship. However, stepchildren are not qualified under the Act.

A child may apply for a Certificate of Citizenship on form N-600 with appropriate documentation to indicate his citizenship through one of the U.S. citizen parent.

Naturalization by Application:

Lawful permanent residents are eligible to apply for citizenship if they meet the following requirements:

  1. At the time of the application for citizenship the applicant is at least 18 years of age.
  2. Be a resident continuously for 5 years after obtaining lawful permanent resident status.
  3. If the applicant is married to a U.S. citizen then the residency requirement is 3 years if it can be shown that the U.S. citizen spouse is a U.S. citizen for at least three years and the applicant has been married to the U.S. citizen for at least three years and is still married at the time of naturalization.
  4. The applicant must have resided for at least three months in the state where application is filed.
  5. Must be physically present in the United States for at least half of the required 5 years or three years in case of spouse of a U.S. citizen.
  6. Must have resided in the United States continuously from the time application is filed until actual admission to citizenship and must not have been absent from the United States for more than one year.
  7. Must be of good moral character for the requisite continuous period of 5 years or 3 years (if married to U.S. citizen spouse).
  8. Certain criminal activities or crimes committed will cause for some applicants to not be able to prove good moral character. Also, crimes committed beyond the 5 or 3 year periods may be considered in finding lack of good moral character.
  9. Must be able to read, write and understand basic English language and have basic knowledge of U.S. government and history.

After the form N-400 Application for Naturalization is filed with the USCIS with the supporting documentation, the applicant is called in for an interview in front of the immigration officer under oath. Then the USCIS has 120 days after the interview to decide on the naturalization application. After the application is approved the applicant is then scheduled for an oath at the public ceremony.

 

Disclosure

We do not represent the Department of Homeland Security or any legal entity. All content on this site is strictly for informational purposes meant to help you make an informed decision regarding you, or your loved ones immigration to the U.S. Be sure to consult our immigration attorney for any legal advice.

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