The Process of Acquiring Citizenship in the United States

The road to U.S. citizenship is a long, arduous one that requires perseverance and dedication. To apply for citizenship in the United States you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must first be admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident, otherwise known as getting a green card.
  • You must be 18 years or older.
  • You must have lived in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for at least 5 years preceding your filing for citizenship. There are, however, exceptions to this requirement. If you are applying for citizenship due to your marriage to a U.S. citizen or are a political asylum-seeker, you must have only lived in the United States for 3 years.
    • You must have actually been physically present in the United States for at least half of those 5 years or 3 years, depending on your situation.
  • You must have lived in the state which you are filing for citizenship for at least 3 months prior to your filing.
  • You must have “good moral character”. This is reflected in your history before applying for citizenship; for example, whether or not you have a clean criminal record.
  • You must be able to read, write, and speak English.
  • You must be able to pass a test administered to you regarding United States' history and government.
  • And, finally, you must swear that you truly believe in the United States' Constitution and what it represents, as well as swearing that your loyalty will be to the United States.

Because the process of naturalization requires the applicant to be 18 years of age or older, minor children cannot apply for citizenship like their parents. However, in most cases, children under age 18 are not required to apply for citizenship, instead it will be granted to them automatically when one of their parents becomes a citizen or if specific requirements are met.

The laws that concerned acquiring derivative citizenship by children under age 18 were expanded and the requirements relaxed in the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. This law states that if a child under the age of 18 meets the following three requirements, they will be granted citizenship. The requirements are as follows:

  1. At least one of the child's parents must be a citizen of the U.S. by naturalization or birth.
  2. The minor child must be a green card holder.
  3. The minor child must be living in the United States in the custody of a parent that is a U.S. citizen.

After all the requirements have been met, the child will automatically become a U.S. citizen, without the need to file any applications.

  • Benefits of Naturalization
  • You will receive benefits only available for citizens (for example, Medicare)
  • You will be able to apply for green card holder status for relatives
  • You cannot be deported back to your initial country of citizenship
  • You are able to run for office in the U.S.
  • You are able to vote in both local and federal elections
  • Your children will be considered U.S. citizens, even if they are born outside of the United States
  • You will be able to obtain various federal benefits that are only available for citizens

The naturalization process can be lengthy and complicated, contact Ramona Kennedy for proper guidance on how to obtain United States citizenship. The initial case evaluation is free of charge. If you or a loved one is seeking citizenship status, contact our law offices today via phone or WhatsApp at +(949)-677-0063 or email: [email protected]

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