In some cases, immigrants seek U.S. citizenship to gain a variety of democratic freedoms not available in other countries, as well as for reasons like joining family and finding employment. The path to United States citizenship takes time, and the government provides several criteria that applicants must meet in order to submit an application and begin the process.
Citizenship through naturalization is a long and sometimes complicated process. If you are interested in pursuing citizenship through naturalization, it is strongly recommended you work with a qualified immigration lawyer. Tucker, Nong and Associates employs experienced immigration lawyers who can guide you through the entire citizenship & naturalization process from start to finish. Give us a call, or contact us online today.
Who Handles Citizenship Applications?
Sometimes called “naturalization,” the process of becoming a citizen of the U.S. invites the government to investigate many personal details of an applicant’s life. The Department of Homeland Security and its U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)department processes applications for citizenship.
Eligibility Criteria for United States Citizenship
One of the essential tasks before an immigrant applies for citizenship is confirming all eligibility criteria. Most importantly, applicants must have lived in the United States as a permanent resident for at least five years except in cases where individuals have come to the United States seeking asylum, have joined the military, and spouses of current citizens.
In addition, the prospective citizens must have resided within United States borders for at least half of those five years. Also, applicants must have lived in the state where they’ve decided to apply for at least three months and cannot have spent more than a year outside the United States or have set up a primary residence in another country.
The government also requires that citizens meet the following criteria:
- 18-years-old or above
- Upstanding or of high moral character
- Ability to communicate in English
- Pass test on U.S. history and government
Finally, applicants must swear to be loyal to the U.S. and to agree with the principles of the Constitution of the United States.
Citizenship Through Birth or Parents
People may become citizens through a variety of ways related to being born in the United States and having parents who are U.S. citizens. Even if a child is born outside of the United States, he or she may already have citizenship if his or her parents are American. The United States provides four ways to obtain U.S. citizenship. Methods include:
- Being born in the United States or one of its territories
- Being born to a U.S. citizen
- Successfully undergoing the citizenship application
- Having parents that became citizens
It’s important to remember that these conditions are only a guide and that exceptions do exist. For example, the laws regarding citizenship change depending upon the decade in which a person was born. For anyone who believes he or she might already be a citizen, it’s important to research the conditions that guide citizenship through the USCIS.
Steps in the Application for Citizenship
After determining that an applicant has all the criteria required to apply for citizenship, the application process may begin. The official application used by USCIS is a form called Form N-400. One of the lengthiest portions of a citizenship application is this initial phase, which may take several months depending on the level of traffic at an applicant’s local USCIS office. Properly managing and filing form N-400 can be very difficult, and even the slightest errors can negatively affect the outcome of your case. It is strongly advised that you work with a licensed immigration lawyer to ensure proper error-free filing.
Steps after Processing
After the initial processing of the application has begun, applicants will return to the office for an interview, as well as getting fingerprints taken. Topics covered during the interview include the applicant’s knowledge of the history and government of the U.S., as well as communication expertise in English.
Note: Some exceptions may be made regarding the English language requirement for applicants over the age of 50. In addition, applicants over the age of 65 who have been permanent residents of the country for at least two decades may request an abbreviated version of the history and government portion of the interview.
Are You In Need Of An Immigration Attorney In Virgina, Maryland or Washington D.C.?
If you find yourself facing immigration issues you need to speak with an experienced immigration lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Vienna, Virgnia office directly at 703.991.7978 or our Rockville, Maryland office at 301.637.5392 to schedule your free case consultation.