Citizenship

Naturalization is the process a foreign citizen or national obtains American citizenship after fulfilling the requirements set out by the government of the United States. Up on acceptance, you will be fully entitled to most benefits of American citizenship. The general requirements for naturalization include:

  • Continuous residence and physical presence in the United States
  • Residence in a particular USCIS District before filing
  • Ability to read, write, and speak English
  • Knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government
  • Good moral character
  • Attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution
  • Favorable view toward the United States.

Citizenship FAQ

Do I qualify for citizenship?

To Qualify for American citizenship you must, first, fulfill the following conditions:

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must have been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence. Individuals admitted as permanent residents will be asked to produce an I-551, Alien Registration Receipt Card, as proof of their status.

In addition the applicant must meet the following requirements:

Physical Presence

You are qualified to file for citizenship if, immediately before the filing, you:

  • Have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence
  • Have resided continuously as a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. for at least 5 years before filing without a single absence from the United States of more than one year
  • Have been PHYSICALLY PRESENT in the United States for at least 30 months out of the previous five years. Absences of more than six months but less than one year shall disrupt the applicant’s continuity of residence unless the applicant can establish that he or she did not abandon his or her residence during such period.
  • Have resided within a state or district for at least three months

Good Moral Character

An applicant must prove that he or she has been a person of good moral character for during her or his period of permanent residence. As well, any conviction for murder or serious criminal act disqualifies the applicant. You may be found to be a person lacking good moral character if, during the last five years, you:

  • Have committed and been convicted of one or more crimes
  • Have committed and been convicted of 2 or more offenses for which the total sentence imposed was 5 years or more
  • Have committed and been convicted of any controlled substance law (drugs), except for a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana
  • Have been confined to a penal institution during the years of your permanent residence, as a result of a conviction, for an aggregate period of 180 days or more
  • Have committed and been convicted of two or more gambling offenses
  • Have earned and earn your principal income from illegal gambling
  • Have been involved in prostitution or commercialized immoral act
  • Have been or are involved in smuggling illegal aliens into the United States
  • Have been a habitual drunkard
  • Are practicing or have practiced polygamy
  • Have intentionally failed or refused to support dependents
  • Have given false testimony, under oath, in order to receive a benefit under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Note: Including above, the applicant must disclose all relevant facts to the USCIS, including any criminal history, regardless of whether the criminal history disqualifies you from obtaining citizenship.

Attachment to the Constitution

You must demonstrate that he or she is attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States.

Language

As an applicant for naturalization, you must be able to read, write, speak, and understand words in ordinary usage in the English language.

Exceptions

Some applicants are exempt from the language requirement. They are those who on the date of filing:

  • Have been residing in the United States following a lawful admission for permanent residence for periods totaling 15 years or more and are over 55 years of age
  • Have been residing in the United States following a lawful admission for permanent residence for periods totaling 20 years or more and are over 50 years of age, or
  • Have a medically determinable physical or mental disability that affects their ability to learn English.

United States Government and History Knowledge

The Applicant is also expected to possess good knowledge and understanding of the basic history, principles, and form of government of the United States.

Exceptions

Applicants, on the date of filing, have medically determined physical or mental disability that affects their ability to learn US history or of its government are exempt from this requirement.

Special consideration will also be given to applicants who have been residing in the U.S. following a lawful admission for permanent residence for at least 20 years and are over the age of 65.

Oath of Allegiance

In order to be considered for a US citizenship, you must take the oath of allegiance. When you do this you swear to:

  • Support the Constitution and obey the laws of the U.S.
  • Discontinue any foreign loyalty and/or foreign title
  • Enlist for the Armed Forces of the U.S. or perform services for the government of the U.S. when required.

Note: In certain instances, the USCIS will allow modify the oath if the applicant establishes that he or she is opposed to any type of service in armed forces based on religious teaching or belief.

How to apply for citizenship?

In order to file for citizenship you should:

  • Complete Form N-400
  • Fill out the Biographical Information Form G-325.
  • Enclose the appropriate application fee of $ 330
  • A $70 per person fee for  biometrics may be required if you are present in the United States
  • Submit two photographs (1.5 inches square with the entire face visible)
  • Submit a copy of the Permanent Resident card or Green Card (Form I-551).

Can my family members become citizens?

If your family members have been granted permanent residence with you or after you, they can qualify for citizenship. They must, however, meet all other conditions required for citizenship.

The child’s citizenship can be determined based on the following:

  • Both of the child’s parents were U.S. citizens at the time of his or her birth
  • The child had only one citizen parent with sufficient residence or physical presence in the U.S. before the child’s birth to pass U.S. citizenship to the child

Note: The laws related to how a person acquires U.S. citizenship at birth are among the most complex of the immigration laws. U.S. citizen whose children were born abroad may pass U.S. citizenship to the child. In some cases, such passing of citizenship may be transmitted from a grandparent to a parent to a child.

Adopted Children

The Child Citizenship Act (CCA) effective since February 27, 2001 allows for most foreign-born children adopted by U.S. citizens to obtain U.S. citizenship automatically on the date they immigrate to the United States.

How does my adopted child qualify for citizenship?

Your adopted child will automatically acquire U.S. citizenship on the date that all of the following requirements are satisfied:

  • At least one adoptive parent is a U.S. citizen,
  • The child is under 18 years of age,
  • There is a full and final adoption of the child, and
  • The child is admitted to the United States as an immigrant

Do I have to apply to USCIS for my child’s citizenship?

No. If your child satisfies the requirements listed above, he or she automatically acquires U.S. citizenship. However, the USICS will not automatically provide adoptive parents with documentation of their child’s citizenship.

 

If you want documentation of your child’s U.S. citizenship, you may obtain a Certificate of Citizenship from the USCIS and/or a U.S. passport from the Department of State. You do not need a Certificate of Citizenship issued by USCIS in order to obtain a passport for your child.

What are the key documents required for my child’s citizenship application?

If you would like to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship, you should file with the USCIS Office authorized to operate in the nearest area of your residence. You need to submit:

  • Form N-643, Application for Certificate of Citizenship
  • A $125 filing fee.

Note: Parents will not be required to submit any evidence that is already in the USCIS files, including translations of documents.

If your child has immigrated to the United States (has a Green Card) after a full and final adoption abroad, you should submit the following with the Form N-643:

  • Photographs of your child
  • Fee

If your child has immigrated to the United States (has a “green card”) to be adopted or re-adopted, you should submit the following with the Form N-643:

  • Photographs of your child
  • Fee
  • Evidence of a full and final adoption, and
  • Evidence of all legal name changes (if applicable)

After review of the application, the USCIS may ask you to submit additional documents to establish your child’s citizenship status.

Am I allowed to maintain dual citizenship?

The immigration laws of the United States allow dual citizenship. In general, countries define citizenship based on one’s descent, place of birth, marriage, and/or naturalization. You are considered a citizen of a certain country based on the following criteria:

  • You were born on territory belonging to, or claimed by, that country
  • One or both of your parents were citizens of that country
  • You married a citizen of that country
  • You (or one or both of your parents) obtained that country’s citizenship by going through a legal process of naturalization.

 

If you are considering dual citizenship, please pay attention to the following conditions:

  • In most cases, dual citizenship does not entail special treatment by their two countries of citizenship
  • Each country often considers the person as if he were a citizen of that country alone
  • Citizenship makes you responsible for legal obligations relating to taxes, military service, and travel restrictions (where and when applicable). Before traveling to an ancestral homeland (even for a brief vacation trip) you should consider checking that country’s citizenship laws carefully.

Advantages

A person with dual citizenship has greater flexibility in his or her choice of where to live and work. Thus, it is important for anyone with dual or multiple citizenships (or with the possibility of claiming such a status) to examine carefully the advantages and disadvantages of the specific situation.

Do I lose my citizenship?

The Immigration and Nationality Act contains a list of acts that cause the loss of one’s U.S. citizenship. You may lose your citizenship if you, among others:

  • Willfully reject your citizenship
  • If your naturalization occurred due to fraud or misrepresentation
  • If you are a danger to the national security of the United States

Do I qualify?

General requirements and qualifications you must meet include:

  • Good moral character
  • Knowledge of the English language
  • Knowledge of U.S. government and history (“civics”), and
  • Attachment to the U.S. by taking an oath of allegiance to the U.S.  Constitution.

Other Requirements

  • Honorable Service for a total of one or more years
  • Lawful permanent residence

Changes on October 1, 2004
Recent legislation has called for additional benefits to members of the military that went into effect on October 1, 2004.

  • No fees will be charged when you file for naturalization.
  • The naturalization process will be made available overseas to members of the Armed Forces at US embassies, consulates, and where practical, military installations abroad.

What are the key documents I need to submit?

  • N-400, Application for Naturalization
  • N-426, Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service (This form requires certification by the military prior to submission to USCIS)
  • G-325B, Biographic Information

How to apply?

Every military installation should have a designated point-of-contact to handle your application and certify your Request for certification of Military or Naval Service (N-426). You should inquire through your chain of command to find out who this person is, so they can help you with your application packet.

Your point-of-contact will send your N-400, G325B, and certified N-426 to:

The Nebraska Service Center
PO Box 87426
Lincoln, NE 68501-7426

The Service Center will review your application and conduct security checks. Then, they will send your application to the district office closest to your location. If you have a preference as to where you would like to be interviewed, you can provide that information in a cover letter attached to your naturalization packet. The district office will set a date to interview you and test your knowledge of English and Civics. If granted, USCIS will inform you of the date you can take your oath of allegiance.

Spouses of US citizens deployed abroad

If you are married to a U.S. citizen who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces and your citizen spouse is or will be deployed abroad by the Armed Forces for one year, you may be eligible for expedited (priority) naturalization.

Benefits after death

The immigration laws of the United States allows for the awarding of posthumous (after death) citizenship to active-duty military personnel who die while serving in the armed forces. Further, surviving family members seeking immigration benefits are entitled to special consideration.