Citizenship & Naturalization
US Citizenship can be obtained either by birth in the U.S., deriving or acquiring citizenship through your parents or through a process of application to the US Immigration Service, termed “Naturalization”.
Who is Eligible?
Most individuals must hold “green card” (LPR) status for a period of 5 years before they are entitled to apply for naturalization. Certain exceptions apply such as for spouses of US citizens, and those with qualifying US military service.
About the Process:
The naturalization application process generally involves proving that the applicant was physically present in the US for a required minimum number of days, and an analysis of the length of all particular trips. It also requires the applicant to show that they have “good moral character”, that they can read, write and speak basic English, and that they know the fundamentals of U.S. history and the form and principles of the US government. The applicant must also be able and willing to take an oath of allegiance to the United States. There are numerous exceptions to many of these criteria, so it is important to speak to a skilled immigration attorney to determine your eligibility.
Applicants for Naturalization file an application (Form N-400) and are then fingerprinted and ultimately interviewed by an Immigration officer at a local “district” immigration office. If a qualified immigration attorney is retained, that attorney can not only prepare the naturalization application, but will preview, counsel and accompany the applicant to the interview. If the applicant is approved at the interview, they are scheduled (usually on a separate date and place) to take the oath of allegiance to the United States. At that time, they will exchange their “green card” for a Certificate of U.S. Citizenship.
Obtaining US citizenship has many important advantages, including the right to obtain a US passport, the right to vote in the United States, and extended privileges in petitioning for relatives, among other things. Despite these numerous advantages, determining whether someone is qualified to file an application for naturalization is complex, and there can be significant risks in applying if the applicant has any potential issues that make them deportable/removable from the United States. Therefore, interested applicants are cautioned to consult with a skilled immigration professional before filing an application.
Although timelines vary by jurisdiction (where the applicant lives), the national goal is to process naturalization applications in less than six months. At a consultation with our office we will advise you on current timelines so you can plan accordingly.
Take the Next Step:
Founding attorney Adrienne Vaughan realizes the major considerations that an individual must consider to ensure they are ready to apply to become a US citizen, including readiness to take the oath of allegiance to the United States. She knows the complexity of the issues involved in naturalization cases, including those for individuals with frequent international travel, those with arrests or convictions, and those who have not lived consistently in the US.
As the child of two naturalized US citizens (who fondly remembers she and her brother wildly waving miniature US flags at her parents’ ceremony), she is honored to guide her clients through this process and help their families to also fully realize the American dream.
Call or email us for a no obligation phone discussion about your matter.