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.
“Marshall and his colleagues were with us at the interviews, we always felt comfortable. Now we are US citizens and we are pretty happy about that.”
-Lars Mathiassen, Naturalization
We often see people who were interviewed for their naturalization application months ago but have yet to receive a decision. The wait can be maddening, but there is a solution if you were interviewed at least 120 days ago and have not received a decision.
Many lawful, permanent residents ask themselves this question at one point or another. The law does not require permanent residents to become citizens, or as it is properly called, file for naturalization. Many permanent residents are concerned that if they naturalize, they will lose citizenship or inheritance rights in another country. This concern is valid since not all countries allow dual citizenship. Before making a decision to naturalize, a permanent resident should seek advice from an expert that is familiar with the laws of your native country to properly weigh the risks and benefits of naturalization.
There are several substantial advantages to being a US citizen that are not available to permanent residents.
“How often do I need to come to the US to keep my green card and apply for US citizenship?” I have heard this question countless times from our lawful permanent resident clients. We are able to help many of our clients keep their green card and file for citizenship, even when they have extended trips abroad. The key is educating our clients on common myths about travel for greencard holders and careful planning.