Citizenship & Naturalization

Naturalization is the legal process by which people who are not born in the United States are granted U.S. citizenship. Once a foreign-born person becomes a naturalized citizen, he or she will have the same rights and protections as a natural born citizen with a few exceptions, such as the ability to serve as the President of the United States.  Naturalized citizens have the right to vote, run for an elected office and apply for federal jobs that require U.S. citizenship, as well as the basic constitutional guarantees of the freedom of expression, to worship as you wish, and to pursue “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Additionally, as a naturalized citizen, members of your family, such as your minor children, may be immediately eligible to receive U.S. citizenship, and other members of your family will generally receive priority when petitioning for a green card.

While there are many benefits to naturalization, the road to becoming a U.S. citizen can be long and difficult and is best handled by an experienced immigration lawyer.  he attorneys at the Puntier Law firm are skilled immigration lawyers who can guide you through each step of the process. We understand that for many immigrants becoming a U.S. citizen is the dream of a lifetime and we are committed to doing everything we can help to help you reach your dreams.

What are the Requirements for Becoming a Naturalized U.S. Citizen?

If you are a foreign-born person thinking about applying to become a naturalized U.S. citizen, you will need to meet several requirements. The attorneys at our firm will carefully explain the process and the different requirements that may apply to your individual situation. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sets forth the general requirements for naturalization:

  • You must be at least 18 years of age at the time of filing your Application for Naturalization (Form N-400)
  • You must be a permanent resident of the United States (hold a green card) for a minimum of 5 years
  • You must be able to demonstrate that you have lived in the state of USCIS district where you are applying for naturalization for a minimum of 3 months
  • You must be able to show that you have continuously resided in the United States for a period of 5 years or more immediately preceding the date upon which you file your application for naturalization and that you have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of those 5 years. If you are married to a U.S citizen you can apply for naturalization within 3 years of becoming a legal permanent resident. See the section below “married to a U.S. citizen?”
  • You must be able to read, write and speak English
  • You must have a basic understanding of United States history and government
  • You must have “good moral character”
  • You must demonstrate an attachment to and the ideals and principles set forth in the United States Constitution

If you meet the criteria and submit your Form N-400, USCIS will contact you to schedule an appointment for fingerprints and an interview with a USCIS officer (unless you fall within an exempted category).  At this interview, the officer will test your knowledge of U.S. history and government as well as English literacy. The officer will also address your good moral character, which includes, any arrests/convictions, tax, and child support arrears. Once your file is complete and you successfully complete the interview, you will be scheduled for a swearing-in ceremony to become an official U.S. citizen.

Married to a U.S. Citizen?

If you are married to a citizen of the United States, you will potentially be able to apply for U.S. citizenship earlier.  While most green card holders must wait five years before submitting their application, spouses of U.S. citizens generally only need to wait three years to apply for citizenship.  It is important to note that you will still need to meet many of the same criteria discussed above, and you must be married to your spouse at the time you submit your application through the time USCIS examines and grants your naturalization request.

The Government Will Review Your Immigration History and Criminal Record

While taking the step to naturalization can be an exciting time for you and your family, it is important to understand that when you apply for citizenship you are opening up your entire immigration history for review.  This means that if you did something wrong in the past, such as providing false information to get your green card, you can still face serious consequences today. Additionally, if you were ever arrested or convicted of a crime, this can have a negative effect on your application and your naturalization may be denied.  With so much on the line, you need to be sure that you have the guidance and support of an experienced U.S. citizenship lawyer. When you work with our firm we will carefully guide you through the process and make sure you are taking all the right steps to reach your goal of becoming a U.S. citizen. In our firm we also handle criminal matters and therefore have the knowledge and expertise to analyze any potential immigration consequences as a result of a conviction.we are able to submit a sentence modification/clarification or file a motion to vacate a plea if necessary. If you have been arrested or convicted of a crime irrespective of when it happened you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney who also handles criminal matters before you submit your naturalization application.

If you have additional questions about U.S. citizenship or need assistance with the filing of an application for naturalization, The Puntier Law Firm can help. Call us today at 404-902-6004.