Understanding and having solid information about the naturalization process and eligibility requirements regarding the application process are critical when obtaining U.S. citizenship.
Applying for U.S. Citizenship
There are various ways one can become a U.S. citizen:
- You are born in the U.S.
- One or both of your parents are U.S. citizens at the time of your birth
- You apply for naturalization and become a U.S. citizen
- Both of your parents are naturalized when you are a minor
Eligibility to apply for U.S. citizenship is based on the following requirements:
- You lived in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident for at least five years
- You have been present in the U.S. for at least half of those five years with no absences longer than six months
- You are 18 years of age or older
- You did not make any other country your permanent home during the time you resided in the United States
- You are able to read, write and speak English
- You have knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government
- You have a positive view toward the U.S.
- You demonstrate good moral character based on the standards and norms of the average citizen in your community
Steps to Apply for Citizenship
- Go onto the USCIS website and fill out the appropriate form completely and honestly. An immigration lawyer can aid you in determining what the appropriate form is (i.e. N-600, N-600K, N-643, etc.).
- Submit the form onto the website along with a copy of your green card, two photographs meeting the USCIS requirements, the fee, and any further documents required.
- Get your fingerprint taken before an interview is scheduled
Interview for U.S. Citizenship
After the applicant submits his or her U.S. citizenship application, an interview will be scheduled by The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS). Due to the accumulation of cases that the BCIS must oversee, the applicant will receive an interview after at least 90 days has passed since the application was submitted. On average, it takes up to six months for the applicant to receive an interview after his or her application was submitted. Following the interview, the applicant will either be granted, continued, or denied U.S. Citizenship.
If denied citizenship, one may either appeal and request administrative review of his or her application, which involves a hearing with an immigration officer or he or she may be eligible to reapply at a later date by resubmitting a new application form and following the same procedures as the initial application.
If granted, the Oath of Allegiance must be taken by the citizen. Oath of Allegiance requires that the citizen relinquish allegiances to other countries, support and defend the U.S. Constitution and U.S. laws, swear allegiances to the U.S., and serve the U.S. if requested. It is at this time that you will trade in your Green Card and obtain a Certificate of Naturalization.
What is Dual Citizenship?
A person is concurrently considered a citizen of more than one country under the laws of those specific countries, since every country has their own laws regarding citizenship. It is possible to obtain dual citizenship at birth through your parents. For instance, a child will become a dual citizen of both the U.S. and the country he or she was born in if they are brought to the U.S. after birth because his or her parents are U.S. citizens and have satisfied residency requirements. If you have obtained dual citizenship from birth or if the country that you want to receive citizenship from after obtaining U.S. citizenship does not require you to formally relinquish your U.S. citizenship, then you are able to keep your dual citizenship for life.
If you or a loved one is interested in obtaining citizenship or have questions regarding the application process, contact a Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Immigration Attorney today for more information.