Citizenship

Citizenship

A person may become a U.S. citizen in several ways. First, outside of a few exceptions, a child born in the United States or abroad to a U.S. citizen will automatically derive U.S. citizenship at birth. Secondly, U.S. citizenship can be acquired through a process known as Naturalization. In addition, the law permits special derivative and automatic Citizenship for certain children whose parent(s) naturalize before the child’s 18th birthday.  Foreign nationals who enlist and serve in the U.S. military are also eligible for Citizenship.

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The general requirements for Naturalization are:

1. The Applicant must be Lawfully Admitted for Permanent Residence (Green Card). There are exceptions for certain persons who are members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
2. At least 18 years old.
3. Maintained a Continuous Residence in the United States for a period of five years. In cases where the Applicant received the Green Card through marriage to a U.S. citizen then the requisite period is reduced to three years.
4. Physically present in the United States for at least one half of the total Continuous Residence period.
5. Reside within the State or District where applying.
6. Must be a person of Good Moral Character.
7. Successfully pass the Literacy and Knowledge of History and Government exam.
8. Willing to take the Oath of Allegiance.

What does Continuous Residence mean?

Continuous Residence is the period of time you spend in the United States without interruption. If you leave the United States for too long you may disrupt your Continuous Residence and delay your Citizenship.

How long can I stay outside of the United States before disrupting my Continuous Residence?

There is a rebuttable presumption of abandonment of continuous residence for Naturalization purposes if you are absent from the United States for a period of more than six months but less than one year. An absence of one year or more automatically breaks continuous residence.

Are there any exceptions to the Continuous Residence requirement?

There are certain specific exceptions outlined by statute. Our professional attorneys can provide you with a detailed description of these exceptions and determine your eligibility for Naturalization.

What does Physical Presence mean?

Physical presence means that you have actually been in the United States for at least one half of the total required period of continuous residence. Most applicants will need to show a minimum of 30 months of physical presence in the United States out of the five years. The spouse of a US citizen, applying after three years of resident status, will need to show a minimum of 18 months of Physical Presence in the United States.

Are there any exceptions to the Physical Presence requirement?

There are certain specific exceptions outlined by statute. Our professional attorneys can provide you with a detailed description of these exceptions and determine your eligibility for Naturalization.

Can a person be excused from the Literacy and Knowledge of History Exam?

There are certain exceptions to the Literacy and Knowledge of History requirement for Naturalization. Persons physically unable to comply due to permanent disability are exempt from the literacy requirement. The exception requires the applicant be unable to learn to speak, read, write, or memorize the answers to the Literacy and Knowledge of History test.

Can a person hold Dual Citizenship?

A U.S. citizen may also be a citizen of another country in certain circumstances. However, the permitted circumstances for Dual Citizenship may be complicated and difficult to understand and thus professional guidance should be followed.