If you were not born in the United States, you may be able to become a United States citizen through the naturalization process. Lawful Permanent Residents of the United States, or green card holders, can apply for Naturalization after they meet the minimum requirements for filing.
The general requirements to be eligible for naturalization are:
- Age 18 or older
- Continuous Residence in the United States: This means that they have maintained their primary home within the country for five years. Spouses of U.S. citizens may meet this requirement after three years.
- Physical Presence in the United States: Applicants must prove that they have been physically present in the United States for half of the time that continuous residence is required.
- An ability to read, write and speak English
- Knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government
- Good moral character: Determinations are made on a case by case basis. Officers may look at factors such as the applicant’s criminal record, family ties, education, employment history, payment of taxes, community involvement and payment of child support and alimony obligations.
The Naturalization process starts with the filing of the Application for Naturalization. The application packet should include all required supporting documents. Applicants will be scheduled for an interview with a USCIS officer to review and discuss the information in their applications. Be prepared to discuss any criminal history.
The applicant will also demonstrate the ability to read, write and understand English and will take a U.S. civics test. Once those tasks are successfully completed, USCIS will send notice of the Oath of Allegiance ceremony. Upon taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, the applicant will become a citizen of the United States.
There are many potential pitfalls when filing for Naturalization. There can be issues with breaks in continuous residence. Applicants with criminal histories may need to delay filing or avoid filing for Naturalization completely. An experienced immigration attorney will evaluate the facts of your case prior to filing with USCIS so that you understand the strengths and potential weaknesses of your case and are prepared to address them ahead of time.
At the law firm of Julie Beth Jouben, P.A., we can assist you in determining when is the best time to apply for citizenship. Call Julie Beth Jouben, P.A., at 727-614-0070 and get the answers to all of your immigration law questions.