Applying for U.S. Citizenship
A citizen owes allegiance to the United States, may vote in local or national elections, may hold a government job and travel on a U.S. passport. Permanent residents—those with “green cards”—cannot do any of those things. A permanent resident becomes a U.S. citizen either through birth or a process known as “naturalization.” Deutsch, Killea and Eapen can assist you to become a U.S. citizen and to attain all the accompanying rights and privileges.
Eligibility for naturalization
A permanent resident is normally eligible to naturalize five years after becoming a permanent resident. In some cases, such as marriage to a U.S. citizen, the eligibility period is reduced to three years. There is also a process called “expedited naturalization,” with no required duration of permanent residence, for certain permanent residents who are working overseas or married to a U.S. citizen working overseas.
Generally, to be eligible for naturalization, one must meet four criteria:
- You must be a permanent resident for the required period, whether three or five years
- You must have been physically present in the U.S. at least one-half of the required time period
- You must not have left the U.S. for an extended period, “breaking the continuity” of your residence
- You must not possess any disqualifying grounds, such as criminal convictions, and
- You must be able to pass simple examinations on the English language and U.S. history
Some people fear applying for naturalization because they cannot speak English or think they are not able to learn history, or they may have had a criminal involvement. Do not assume that you are not eligible. Some criminal matters do not disqualify one from naturalization. Also, certain long-time permanent residents or persons with disabling medical conditions can obtain a waiver of the English language and American history tests. Our DC immigration lawyers can consult on these matters with you. More information about naturalization can be found at the USCIS website.