Law Offices Of Abrams and Taheri

Law Offices Of Abrams and Taheri U.S. Citizenship


Requirements for Naturalization

The most basic requirement for naturalization is that the applicant must be at least 18 years old. Children younger than 18 years whose parents are naturalized automatically obtain United States citizenship as long as the children have also met the requisite residency requirements.

As a general rule, an applicant for naturalization must have been a permanent resident of the United States for at least five years and also meet certain requirements dealing with the time actually physically spent in the U.S. During the five years immediately preceding the application, the person must have resided in the U.S., with half of that time physically spent in the U.S.

A legal permanent resident whose spouse is a U.S. citizen may seek U.S. citizenship after only three years as a permanent resident, rather than five years. The couple must have been married for the entire three years and the spouse must have been a U.S. citizen for the entire three-year period.

During the three months preceding the application, the person must have resided in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) district where the application will be filed. Between the filing of the application and the granting of citizenship, the applicant must continue to reside in the U.S. While travel is not forbidden, one must not change his or her place of residence during this time, and the requirement of spending half of one’s time in the U.S. continues to apply at the time of naturalization as well as the time of application.

Absences of more than one year will terminate continuous residence unless the applicant complies with certain requirements. First, the applicant must have been physically present in the U.S. for one continuous year following admission as a permanent resident. Any absence from the U.S., however brief, is not allowed during this period. Additionally, the applicant must be employed by one of the following:

The U.S. government; a U.S. research institution recognized by the Attorney General; a U.S. business engaged in the development of foreign trade and commerce; or a public international organization of which the U.S. is a member. Before the one-year period outside the U.S. is up, the applicant must file an application with the USCIS to preserve residency and must demonstrate employment by one of the organizations listed above. The applicant must then prove again that the absence from the U.S. was because of employment. Even when these requirements are met, it is important to remember that the requirement that half of the five years prior to filing the naturalization application be spent in the U.S. still applies.

In addition, the applicant must also demonstrate good moral character and an attachment to the principles embodied in the U.S. Constitution. Finally, he or she must possess basic English skills and knowledge of the history and government of the U.S.

There are some groups of people who, even if they could demonstrate these requirements, are still not eligible to become citizens. These include people who have held certain ideological beliefs and people who have deserted the U.S. military. While criminal offenses do not of themselves preclude a person from being naturalized, since 1996 people convicted of aggravated felonies are considered unable to show good moral character. U.S. law no longer contains provisions that prevent a person from naturalizing because of ethnicity.