U.S. citizenship granted at either birth or after USCIS approves an individual’s application for citizenship through naturalization. Generally, only lawful permanent residents are allowed to apply for naturalization, but there are certain exceptions. In any case, the naturalization process begins with the N-400, Application of Naturalization, which can be obtained on the USCIS website.
It is important that the individual seeking U.S. citizenship understand the application procedure and make sure that he or she is eligible for naturalization in the first place.
To be eligible for naturalization in order to become a United States citizen, the individual must
be at least 18 years of age and be subject to more specific requirements depending on how exactly he or she obtained his or her legal permanent residence.
If an permanent resident obtain his or her green card through marriage to U.S citizen, he or she must wait three years after the date on which his or her permanent residence was acquired to apply for citizenship. During three-year period the applicant must have been physically present in the United States for a minimum of 18 months. The application submitted under these circumstances will require that the individual prove with substantial documentation that he or she is still married and living in a marital union with the U.S citizen spouse.
If individual obtained permanent residency any other way, he or she can apply for citizenship five years from the date he or she initially acquired his or her green card. In this case, the applicant must have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months during the five-year period preceding the filing of the application for naturalization.
Regardless of whether the individual has to wait for the three-year time period or the five-year time period, the application can be sent out 90 days before period of time is completed.
Prior to the interview, the applicant will be required to submit his or her passport, permanent resident card (“green card”), and any other documents requested by USCIS.
This process is very time sensitive with regards to the amount of time a person must wait to apply and the amount of time the person must have been physically present in the United States. USCIS will carefully look to determine the total duration of your time outside of the country by using your passport to determine when you left the country and when you returned. If the person wishing to apply for naturalization does not adhere to the time requirements, he or she becomes ineligible for citizenship at the time of application.
In addition, the person must establish that he or she has good moral character. If the applicant has been arrested, it might disqualify him or her from obtaining citizenship. Of course, it depends on the crime that the individual was arrested for committing. There are misdemeanors and then there are felonies that can work against a person’s eligibility.
Once the individual is eligible based on the time and good moral requirements, he or she must also demonstrate basic knowledge in U.S. history and government, or “civics”, and fulfill the English requirement which involves speaking, reading, and writing simple words and phrases.
If the individual passes all parts of the interview and USCIS decides that it does not have to run any additional background checks on the applicant, the officer will usually notify the person if he or she has been approved for citizenship, in which case the person will receive a letter within two weeks with the date and time of appearance for the Oath of Allegiance Ceremony.
718 La Migra is here to assist you with any of your concerns regarding citizenship. We highly encourage that you pursue naturalization to obtain U.S. citizenship and wish you the best of luck in the application process.
- Manual de Ciudadania y Naturalización del USCIS (En Ingles) (1-22-13)
- Preguntas de Educación Cívica del Examen de Naturalización
Naturalizacion Acelerada a traves del Servicio Militar:
- Hoja de información del MAVNI para los reclutas de lenguaje (Ejército de EE.UU.)
- F and M Students and MAVNI: A Guide for Designated School Officials (ICE)
- MAVNI Information Sheet For Language Recruits (U.S. Army)
- Request MAVNI Information Pack (U.S. Army)
- Citizenship for Military Members & Dependents (USCIS)
- Naturalization Information for Military Personnel (USCIS)
- Enlist in the Army (U.S. Army)
- Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) Recruitment Pilot
- Learn More About Army’s Pilot Program for Recruiting Nonimmigrants with Strategic Language Skills
- Learn More About Army’s Pilot Program for Recruiting Nonimmigrants Doctors and Nurses
- Military Personnel Citizenship Processing Act (S.2840) – (Passed by House and Senate, Signed by President on 10-9-08)
- USCIS Launches Toll-Free Military Help Line (8-13-07)
- Gallarde v. INS (9th Cr. 5-11-07)
- USCIS Fact Sheet: Military Naturalizations (6-14-06)