Individuals and families immigrate to the United States for many reasons. Some are seeking educational and career opportunities that their home countries do not offer. Others are reuniting with family members who are already established here. Whatever the reason, many of these immigrants hope to one day become citizens so that their futures in this country are secure. At Trow & Rahal, we are proud to help immigrants and children of citizens apply for United States citizenship and naturalization. We assist with routine cases and can tackle complicated ones. As creative problem-solvers with a wealth of knowledge and experience, we offer experience, expertise, and empathy to prospective citizens.
United States Citizenship Through Naturalization
Over a million permanent residents apply for naturalization each year. The most common applicants for naturalization are permanent residents (green card holders), spouses, children, and parents of American citizens, and members of the United States Armed Forces. Each category has unique requirements, but, in general, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Be at least 18 years of age at the time you file the application
- Have been a lawful permanent resident for the past five years if applying as a permanent resident
- Have been a lawful permanent resident for the past three years if applying as the spouse of a citizen
- Have served honorably in the Armed Forces for at least one year if applying based on military service
- Have continuous residence and physical presence in the United States
- Be able to read, write, and speak basic English
- Demonstrate good moral character
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government
- Demonstrate loyalty to the principles of the U.S. Constitution
- Be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance
While the list might appear straightforward, it is not an easy process for many people. Applicants must demonstrate a basic understanding of the English language and pass a civics test that includes questions about American history and government. Applicants must also be persons of “good moral character.” If you have ever been arrested, failed to pay child or spousal support, or have been caught lying to immigration officials, your application could be denied based on a lack of good moral character. An immigration attorney might be able to help you overcome these obstacles, and it is a good idea to consult with one before starting the application process.
If you are successful in becoming a naturalized citizen, your minor children may also qualify to “derive” citizenship, as long as you have legal custody of them and they are lawful permanent residents who have been residing with you in the United States. This law does not apply in every situation, so it is important to discuss your options with an immigration attorney.
Acquiring Citizenship Through Parents
If eligible, a child born outside of the United States to an American citizen parent or parents can “acquire” citizenship depending upon the law that was in effect when the child was born.
These laws have changed over the years, but acquisition of citizenship usually requires a combination of at least one parent being an American citizen when the child was born and that parent having lived in the United States or its possessions for a specific period of time. Sometimes obtaining evidence of the parent’s physical presence in the United States for the required period to demonstrate that the children have derived citizenship is not easy.
Are You in Need of a Citizenship & Naturalization Attorney?
If you are in need of citizenship and naturalization legal assistance, you should speak with an experienced immigration attorney as soon as possible. We have been helping people just like you with the immigration process since 1993 and always work towards exceeding expectations. Please contact us online or call our office directly at 202.537.4830 to discuss your specific citizenship legal needs. We service clients throughout the United States from our Bethesda, Maryland office and look forward to working with you.