The process that immigrants must complete to become citizens of the United States is called naturalization and involves the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). A person may become an American citizen by birth or through naturalization. Through the process of naturalization, United States citizenship is conferred upon a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
American citizens are granted rights and accept responsibilities. A
citizen of the United States is a native-born, foreign-born, or naturalized
person who owes allegiance to the United States and who is entitled to
Among the responsibilities implied by American citizenship are the promises incorporated in the Oath of Allegiance, including giving up prior allegiances to other countries, supporting and defending the laws of the United States, and swearing allegiance to the United States.
A permanent resident alien can file for American citizenship four years and nine months after obtaining a green card. There is one exception to this rule. When a permanent resident alien marries an American citizen and obtains a green card as a result, the waiting period is reduced to three years, provided that the permanent resident alien is still married to and resides with the American citizen.
To apply to become a citizen of the United States, an applicant must satisfy certain requirements, including being at least eighteen years of age; having been a permanent resident (green card holder) for at least three years; having resided continuously and been physically present in the United States as indicated below; having the ability to read, write, and speak English; having a knowledge and understanding of American history and government; being of good moral character; and possessing an attachment to the principles of the United States Constitution. As indicated above, every applicant must have been a lawful Permanent Resident of the United States for the previous five years without leaving the United States for trips of six months or longer, and, during the previous five years, must have been in the United States for thirty months or more andhave resided in the district or state in which the applicant is applying for citizenship for the previous three months.
In addition, to become a citizen, each applicant must have filed federal and state income tax returns for the previous five years, must not have been convicted of any crimes, and must answer correctly questions about American government and history at the citizenship interview. The approximate waiting period from the date of application for citizenship to the interview is twelve to fifteen months.
Each applicant should access his or her eligibility before applying for naturalization. If a candidate will not meet all the requirements, he or she should save both time and money by waiting until eligibility exists. An applicant may file for naturalization up to three months before meeting the five year "continuous residence" requirement. An applicant may apply once the applicant has been in "continuous residence" for four years and nine months.
Each applicant must complete the Form N-400 and send
it to the appropriate service center with two photographs, the fee, and
all other necessary documents. The USCIS may ask for
additional information. If an applicant leaves necessary information
out of the application, the processing of the naturalization application
will be delayed.
The USCIS will send all applicants an interview notice in the mail that will state the date, time and place of the applicant’s interview. Failure to bring the necessary documents may result in the delay or denial of the application. During the interview, each applicant’s ability to read, write and speak English will be tested. Each applicant will also have to answer civics questions that will test his or her knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government.
Due to the complexity of and constant changes in the immigration laws, one should consult an attorney before preparing the necessary documents for their citizenship application. If you are looking for advice or assistance on immigration, fell free to call.
Pursuant to New York law this website is considered attorney advertising.
Copyright © 2004-2009 by Jeffrey B. Peltz P.C.. All rights reserved. You may reproduce materials available at this site for your own personal use and for non-commercial distribution. All copies must include this copyright statement.