Becoming a U.S. Citizen through Naturalization
Every year, an estimated 680,000 people become U.S. citizens through Naturalization. Naturalization is the process of applying with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to become a citizen of the United States. Once Naturalized, the individual will trade in their green card for a Certificate of Naturalization. With that certificate, you can then apply for a U.S. passport which can be used for international travel, identification purposes, and proof that you are a U.S. citizen.
There are different ways in which you can qualify to become a U.S. citizen. One way is after you have been a permanent resident of the United States for at least 5 years. You can apply earlier if you are married to a U.S. citizen and have been a permanent resident for at least 3 years. Members of the U.S. armed forces and children of U.S. citizens may also be eligible to apply for Naturalization if they meet the eligibility requirements for those categories.
If either of your parents was a U.S. citizen prior to your 18th birthday, it is important that you discuss your case with a qualified immigration attorney. You may already be a U.S. citizen and an attorney can assist you in obtaining the proper proof as well as a U.S. passport.
The general requirements for naturalization are as follows:
- Be 18 years of age or older;
- Be a permanent resident of the United States for either 3 or 5 years;
- Be a person of good moral character;
- Have knowledge of U.S. government;
- Have the required continuous residence and physical presence in the U.S.; and
- Be able to read, write, and speak English.
A person’s moral character can be proved by showing a clean criminal record. If you have been charged with a crime, you may still be eligible to apply for naturalization. The immigration officer will look at the nature of the crime, how many years have passed since the conviction, and any evidence that you have been rehabilitated. For example, if you were charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana 7 years ago and you went through a rehabilitation program, chances are that you will be able to prove good moral character for naturalization purposes.
If you think you may be eligible for Naturalization, call us today to schedule a consultation. Consultations are available in English and Spanish. Se habla español.