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Naturalization & Citizenship

A person may become a U.S. citizen by birth or through naturalization. Naturalization is the process an immigrant goes through to become a U.S. citizen after fulfilling a certain requirements. Usually if a child who is a permanent resident can derive citizenship from the naturalized parents. This is true whether the child is by birth or adoption.

General Naturalization Requirements

There are certain general requirements for a naturalization applicant to meet before he or she can become a U.S. citizen through naturalization. An applicant must:

  • be at least 18 years old.
  • have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence (see preceding section);
  • have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence (see preceding section);
  • have resided continuously as a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. for at least 5 years (3 years for the spouse of a U.S. citizen) prior to filing with no single absence from the United States of more than one year;
  • have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the previous five years or 18 months if you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen (absences of more than six months but less than one year shall disrupt the applicant’s continuity of residence unless the applicant can establish that he or she did not abandon his or her residence during such period)
  • have resided within a state or district for at least three months
  • be of good moral character A person also cannot be found to be a person of good moral character if during the last five years he or she:
  • has committed and been convicted of one or more crimes involving moral turpitude
  • has committed and been convicted of 2 or more offenses for which the total sentence imposed was 5 years or more
  • has committed and been convicted of any controlled substance law, except for a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana
  • has been confined to a penal institution during the statutory period, as a result of a conviction, for an aggregate period of 180 days or more
  • has committed and been convicted of two or more gambling offenses
  • is or has earned his or her principal income from illegal gambling
  • is or has been involved in prostitution or commercialized vice
  • is or has been involved in smuggling illegal aliens into the United States
  • is or has been a habitual drunkard
  • is practicing or has practiced polygamy
  • has willfully failed or refused to support dependents
  • has given false testimony, under oath, in order to receive a benefit under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
  • be attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States.
  • be able to read, write, speak, and understand words in ordinary usage in the English language. Applicants exempt from this requirement are those who on the date of filing:
  • have been residing in the United States subsequent to a lawful admission for permanent residence for periods totaling 15 years or more and are over 55 years of age;
  • have been residing in the United States subsequent to a lawful admission for permanent residence for periods totaling 20 years or more and are over 50 years of age; or
  • have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, where the impairment affects the applicant’s ability to learn English.
  • demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history and of the principles and form of government of the United States. Applicants who have been residing in the U.S. subsequent to a lawful admission for permanent residence for at least 20 years and are over the age of 65 will be given special consideration in meeting this requirement.

Oath of Allegiance 

To become a citizen, the applicant must take the oath of allegiance and swear to:

  • support the Constitution and obey the laws of the U.S.;
  • renounce any foreign allegiance and/or foreign title; and
  • bear arms for the Armed Forces of the U.S. or perform services for the government of the U.S. when required.

Rights and Responsibilities Associated with U.S. Citizenship 

Along with the U.S. citizenship come certain rights ands responsibilities.

Some of the rights granted by the U.S. citizenship:

  • All the rights listed in the Constitution including the right to vote
  • Right to have a U.S. passport
  • Right to work in the U.S.

Some of the responsibilities implied by the U.S. citizenship:

  • Promises in the Oath of Allegiance including giving up prior allegiances to other countries
  • Support and defend the laws of the U.S.
  • Swear allegiance to the U.S.
  • Serve the country when required

Procedures for Application of Naturalization

One can file for naturalization three months before the continual residence of the full five years. In other words, one can apply for naturalization when he or she has continuous residence of four years and nine months. An overall evaluation should be conducted to determine that the applicant meets all the requirements. Then the application should be filed with the appropriate service center with all the necessary documents and form, the applicant’s photographs and application fee. Incomplete application documents may cause the application to be delayed or denied. A fingerprint notice will be issued to the applicant for FBI to conduct a criminal background check, an interview will be conducted with the immigration officer during which the applicant will also be tested. And the successful applicant will take part in the oath ceremony.