There are four ways one can become a United States citizen:
- Anyone born in the U.S. and subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. is a U.S. citizen
- Anyone born in another country to parents who are U.S. citizens may become a U.S. citizen at birth through acquisition of citizenship
- Anyone can become a U.S. citizen through a process called Naturalization
- Anyone who is a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. and whose parent or parents naturalized may become a U.S. citizen through derivation of citizenship
Once an individual becomes a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., the next step is about maintaining their status as a Permanent Resident and meeting the naturalization eligibility requirements for acquiring U.S. citizenship. To become a naturalized citizen, an individual must meet the following requirements. An applicant must be able to provide evidence that s/he:
- Is a lawful permanent resident of the U.S.
- Is at least eighteen years old
- Has good moral character
- Has the ability to speak, read and write English
- Is able to pass a test on U.S. history and government
- Has established a home in the U.S. for at least five years (three years for the spouses of U.S. citizens)
- Has not disturbed the continuity of residency requirements for any of the last five years except in certain circumstances
- Has been physically present in the U.S. for at least thirty months during the five year period (eighteen months for spouses of U.S. citizens).
- Is willing to take the full oath of allegiance to the U.S.
Exceptions to the Above Requirements
There are several exceptions to the aforesaid general requirements for naturalization. These exceptions are for individuals who fall under "Special Categories".
Spouses of United States Citizens
The five year residence requirement and the thirty month physical presence requirement contain an exception for the spouse of a U.S. citizen. The spouse of a U.S. citizen only needs to have lived in the United States for three years as a lawful permanent resident prior to applying for naturalization and to have been physically present in the U.S. for only eighteen months during the last three years. The naturalization applicant must have been married to and living with their U.S. citizen spouse for at least three years and the spouse must have been a U.S. citizen for the entire three years. The same rule applies to the naturalization applicant who obtained lawful permanent resident status in the U.S. based on a battered spouse of a U.S. citizen.
Children of United States Citizens
In some situations minor unmarried children can derive U.S. citizenship through their parent or parents, and it is possible for a U.S. citizen to file for a Certificate of Naturalization for minor children who are adopted, children born outside the U.S. who did not acquire U.S. citizenship at birth and some children who have a U.S. citizen grandparent may be eligible for naturalization.
Individual Served in United States Armed Forces
In some situations individuals who are lawful permanent residents with at least three year active service in the Armed Forces of the U.S., or individuals who are not even lawful permanent residents but who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during certain period of military hostilities may be eligible for naturalization. Service in the Armed Forces of the U.S. is recognized as active or reserve service in the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marines or U.S. Coast Guard.
Waiver to the English Language Requirement
The ability to read, speak and write English is not required of the following categories of applicants:
- An individual who is unable to comply because of a "physical or developmental disability" or a "mental impairment "
- An individual who is over fifty years old and has lived in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident for twenty years
- An individual who is over fifty-five years old and has lived in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident for fifteen years
It should be noted that even applicants who do not have to fulfill the English language requirement because they qualify in either the over fifty years old or fifty-five years old categories, are required to fulfill the U.S. history and government requirement. The process of applying for citizenship or naturalization involves different sets of forms, documents, and procedural rules.
At The Ahluwalia Firm, our emphasis is on:
- Providing zealous representation before the USCIS
- Delivering value for money, ensuring seamless processing of your visa petition/application
- Providing careful review of your personal circumstances
- Providing dependable advice and assistance on how to present yourself at the interview
- Ensuring a service-delivery model that meets and exceeds your satisfaction
For additional information about our ability to help, prepare, and file all the necessary documents required to apply for citizenship or naturalization, contact us for reliable advice.