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Naturalization & Citizenship

Naturalization and CitizenshipNaturalization is the process by which a foreign national can become U.S. citizen after he/she satisfies certain requirements. The process can be complicated and you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can help you file your naturalization/citizenship application and accompany you to your citizenship interview. An experienced immigration lawyer can help you avoid mistakes that can potentially delay the approval of your citizenship application.

Qualification for Naturalization

In order for a foreign national to become a U.S. citizen through naturalization, he/she must satisfy the following basic criteria:

1.) The foreign national must be at least 18 years old or older.

2.) The foreign national must be a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) in the United States. A LPR is someone who is not a U.S. citizen but legally and permanently residing in the United States as an immigrant under a Green Card.

3.) The foreign national must have continuously resided in the United States for 5 years after he/she obtains the LPR status. If the foreign national is married to a U.S. citizen, the continuous residency requirement is 3 years if the U.S. citizen spouse has been a U.S citizen for 3 years and the couple has been living in a marital union for 3 years. The foreign national must have been physically present in the U.S. for at least one-half of the 5 years (or one-half of 3 years if foreign national is a spouse of a U.S. citizen). If the foreign national is absent from the U.S. for more than 6 months but less than a year, the continuous residence may be broken unless the foreign national can prove otherwise. If the foreign national is absent from the U.S. for more than a year, the continuous residence is broken.

4.) The foreign national must have resided for at least 3 months in the state where the application is filed.

5.) The foreign national must be a person of good moral character for 5 years (or 3 years if foreign national is a spouse of a U.S. citizen). A person is not deemed a person of good moral character if, for example, he/she has given false testimony, committed certain crimes, committed terrorist acts, etc.

6.) The foreign national must be attached to the principles of the Constitution and be willing to bear arms and perform noncombatant service for the United States.

7.) The foreign national must demonstrate knowledge of English language, U.S. history and government through taking an English test and civics test. There are 3 exceptions to the English language requirement. If the individual is over 50 years old and have lived in the United States for at least 20 years as an LPR or if the individual is over 55 years old and have lived in the United States for at least 15 years as an LPR, he/she does not have to take the English test and can take the civics test in language of his/her choice.

Application Procedure

To obtain citizenship through naturalization, the foreign national must submit an application package to the USCIS including:

1.) Form N-400 Application for Naturalization

2.) a photocopy of Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551)

3.) 2 color photos,

4.) other supporting documents, and

5.) a fee.

The application may be filed up to 3 months before the continuous residence requirements are met. Next, the USCIS will send an appointment letter to the applicant to have the applicant’s fingerprints taken. The USCIS will then schedule an interview with the applicant after they finish conducting a full background check on the applicant. During the interview, the applicant will answer question regarding his/her application and take the English and civics test.