Naturalization is the end of a long journey for foreign nationals. Although it may seem straightforward, the requirements for naturalization can be complex and confusing. Further, the presence of a criminal record, regardless of the severity might result in not only the denial of naturalization but also being placed in removal proceedings.
Do I qualify for naturalization?
Generally, you may qualify for naturalization if you meet one of these criteria:
- You have held lawful permanent resident status for at least four years and nine months
- You have held lawful permanent resident status for at least two years and nine months and you are married to a US citizen and living together
- You have qualifying service in the US armed forces
What are the specific requirements for applying?
The actual requirements for applying are detailed and specific. The following are generally required:
- A period of continuous residence (either 4 years and 9 months or 2 years and 9 months, depending upon whether the application for naturalization is based upon marriage to a US citizen) and physical presence (half of the either 5 or 3 year period preceding the application, depending upon whether the application is based upon marriage to a US citizen) in the United States
- The ability to read, write, and speak basic English
- A knowledge and understanding of United States history and government
- Good moral character (generally regarding criminal record and payment of taxes)
- Agreement to support the United States Constitution
- Willingness to take an oath of allegiance to the US
How is my family affected?
If you are naturalized, your child may qualify for automatic, derivative citizenship if your child:
- Was under 18 at the time you naturalized
- Is residing in the US as a lawful permanent resident
- Is residing in the US in your legal and physical custody
What are my next steps?
Anyone contemplating applying for naturalization should speak with a competent and knowledgeable immigration attorney. This is the only way to ensure that the applicant for naturalization doesn’t waste the substantial filing fee or is placed in removal proceedings.
For more information, contact the immigration and naturalization attorneys of Antonini & Cohen today or call us at 404-850-9394.