How does naturalization and citizenship work?
Naturalization and citizenship are two similar but different areas of immigration.
Was someone in your family a U.S. citizen? Even if you are not a U.S. citizen, you may have derived or acquired citizenship through a family member who who had citizenship in the past. U.S. citizenship laws have changed over the years, so what can qualify someone as a citizen today may not have been the case when your grandfather or great-grandmother was a citizen or when your mother naturalized. It doesn’t matter if you were born outside of the U.S. to one or two U.S. citizens, born out of wedlock, or were adopted. Naturalization and citizenship laws are constantly changing; it never hurts to ask someone who knows. Contact Steele-Kaplan Law Offices to see if you might already be a U.S. citizen. It happens more often than you think.
Are you a foreign citizen with legal permanent residence, but you want to become a U.S. citizen? This is called naturalization. In addition to becoming an American citizen, with naturalization you don’t have to give up citizenship in your home country. The United States allows you to keep dual citizenship.
The path to U.S. citizenship is complex
Becoming a U.S. citizen is a process. Naturalization and citizenship services from Steele-Kaplan Immigration Law will help you in this process. You must meet all of the following requirements prior to applying for citizenship:
- Be 18 or older at the time of filing
- Be a permanent resident for at least five years immediately preceding the date of filing (unless you are married to a U.S. citizen: then it is three years)
- Have lived within the state or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services district with jurisdiction over your place of residence for at least three months prior to the date of filing the application
- Have continuous residence in the United States as a permanent resident for at least five years (three years if married to a U.S. citizen) immediately preceding the date of filing the application
- Be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the five years immediately preceding the date of filing the application (18 months out of the past 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen)
- Reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization up to the time of naturalization
- Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (civics)
- Be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well-disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law.
There are always some exceptions with naturalization and citizenship
For example, if you are 50 years or older and have lived in the United States as a permanent resident for the past 20 years, you are exempt from the English language requirement.
When you’re ready to take that last, big, immigration step, come talk to us. We’re good people to know.