IMMIGRATION: Citizenship - Naturalization


By definition, Naturalization is the process by which a person, formerly not a citizen of a country, becomes a citizen of a country. Generally speaking, an alien must have been lawfully admitted to
the United States for permanent residence, and must have resided as a lawful permanent resident
in the United States for at least five years to be eligible to apply for United States citizenship. An exception is in the case of the spouse of a United States citizen, who may be eligible to apply for citizenship after three years as a permanent resident, or certain persons derivatively eligible through parents.

An applicant for U.S. citizenship must be at least 18 years of age, except that children under 18
years of age may be naturalized through a parent's naturalization, or if already naturalized the
parents may file a separate application on behalf of the child.

An applicant for U.S. citizenship must have resided continuously in the United States as a permanent resident for a period of at least five years (or three years) during the five years immediately preceding the date of filing his application, and must have been physically present in the United States for periods totaling at least half that time (30 months, or 18 months for spouses of U.S. Citizens).

An applicant must have been physically present in the United States for at least 50% (fifty percent) of the time necessary to qualify for citizenship - 18 months if permanent residence was gained through marriage to a U.S. citizen, and 30 months if gained through other means. In addition to the time requirement, an applicant for U.S. citizenship must be able to speak, read, and write English,
be able to sign his or her name in English, be familiar with the Constitution of the United States,
and pass a test demonstrating that the applicant is familiar with important facts and principals about United States history and government.

Absence from the United States of one year or longer breaks the qualifying residency period, and
the alien must generally begin again to qualify. But, absences of a year or more may also deprive the alien of their permanent residence status, unless a re-entry permit was applied for in advance of their departure from the United States. An alien being sent abroad by certain American organizations may file an application to preserve residence for naturalization prior to departure in order not to lose time previously accumulated. Filing an Application to Preserve Residence does not excuse an alien from the requirement of obtaining a re-entry permit in advance of any trips outside the United States for one year or longer.

Absence from the United States of more than six months, but less than one year, during the period for which continuous residence is required for admission to citizenship, either immediately preceding the date of filing the application for naturalization, or during the period between the filing date and the date of the naturalization interview, breaks the continuity of residence, unless the applicant can show to the satisfaction of the Immigration Service that he or she did in fact not abandon residence
in the United State during the period of absence

An applicant for U.S. citizenship must have resided (but not necessarily been physically present)
in the United States from the date of the application up to the time of admission to citizenship.
In all instances, the applicant must have physically resided in the within the State and/or within
the District of the Immigration Service in which the application is filed, for at least three months.

During all periods of residence the applicant must have been a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, as well as disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States. Persons considered not to be of good moral character
are barred from citizenship. Habitual drunkards, adulterers, polygamists, terrorists, and persons connected with prostitution or narcotics, gamblers, criminals, convictions of crimes of moral turpitude (basic dishonesty), and murderers are considered not to be of good moral character. Persons with any criminal history should not file an Application for Naturalization without consulting competent legal counsel.

An applicant for U.S. citizenship must give up his or her foreign allegiance and must promise
to obey the Constitution and laws of the United States, but may retain "dual citizenship", if their country of origin allows it - the laws of some countries permit dual citizenship, and some do not.

While seemingly simple in application, issues relating to Naturalization can be complex. It is advised that competent legal counsel be consulted before proceeding with an Application for Naturalization to insure that not only the Naturalization process is not jeopardized, but the
permanent residence status as well.

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The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.
You are encouraged to seek qualified legal counsel for advice regarding your individual legal issues.

Contents Copyright David D. Murray 1998 - 2015 All rights reserved.