In order to acquire U.S. citizenship, a person must meet certain requirements. The applicant must be 18 years of age, have been a lawful permanent resident for 5 or 3 years, resided physically in the U.S. for at least half of that time, and be a resident in the state of application for at least 3 months prior to applying. A person can file for citizenship 90 days before he or she accrues the required 3 or 5 years. Naturalization after being a permanent resident for 3 years is available to persons who obtained permanent resident status through a U.S. citizen spouse and remains married to, and currently living with, that spouse at the time of the application. Persons granted asylum or refugee status get one year’s credit towards citizenship and therefore, have only a 4-year wait to naturalize after becoming a lawful permanent resident. Applicants for citizenship are tested on their ability to understand English, their ability to read and write English, and their knowledge of U.S. history, civics, and government. In order to obtain citizenship, an applicant must be found to be a person of good moral character. Therefore, as part of the citizenship process, applicants must undergo a background check and are fingerprinted. Certain criminal convictions can render a person ineligible for citizenship and other convictions or actions, although not convictions, can cause the person to be found lacking in good moral character.
If, due to a mental or physical impairment, the applicant for citizenship cannot meet the testing requirements, there is a waiver available. In addition, persons can be exempt from the English test based on their age. Persons over 50 years of age who have lived in the U.S. for 20 years, persons over 55 years of age who have been a lawful permanent resident for 15 years, and persons over 65 years of age who have lived in the U.S. for 20 years do not have to take the English test and can take the civics test in the language of their choice.
For persons who have served in the military during times of active conflict, there is no waiting period to apply for naturalization. In addition, the waiting period to apply for naturalization does not apply to certain widows and widowers of service members who die in active conflicts.
Under certain circumstances, a person may acquire U.S. citizenship through his or her parents, despite being born abroad. Some persons acquire citizenship upon their births abroad if their parents or grandparents were U.S. citizens at the time of their births. Others acquire citizenship because they entered the U.S. while under 18 years of age as a lawful permanent resident and their parent or parents naturalized before their 18th birthday. It is best to consult with an immigration attorney prior to applying for citizenship in order to assure the best outcome.
When you hire Minikon Law, LLC to represent you in your citizenship case, we do the following:
- Evaluate your immigration history to assess challenges in the application process
- Evaluate your criminal history, if relevant, to assess challenges in the application process
- Assist you as needed, in obtaining certified copies of all arrest and court dispositions
- Provide you with the study materials for the history, civics, and government test
- Prepare you for your citizenship interview, including conducting a mock interview with you using questions from the citizenship test
- Attend the interview with you
Learn More about the Citizenship Process by watching this video by USCIS.