How to become a U.S. citizen?

This is a very common question for immigration attorneys, and sometimes not an easy question to be answered because naturalization laws have changed over time. First, those born in United States’ soil or its territories become United States nationals– they are commonly called United States citizens as well. Second, United States citizenship may also be acquired through the following two ways: (1) through parents, and (2) through naturalization. Those born outside the United States to a United States citizen parent or parents may be United States citizens, depending on the law in effect at the time they were born. This is one of the most complex naturalization issues to unravel; it requires extensive research and the help of an immigration attorney. A person born outside the United States may also become a United States citizen.

(USC) through naturalization if certain requirements are met. For instance, that person must be a lawful permanent resident (LPR) for five years, or three years if married to a USC; must be a least 18 years old; must be a person of good moral character for the five years preceding the filing of the application; must be physically present in the United States for at least half of the five years preceding the filing of the application; and must pass an English and civics test. The Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) and case law contain exceptions or variations to these requirements; for this reason, it is very important to consult an immigration attorney before filing the application for citizenship. 

How to become a U.S. citizen through naturalization: 

The process starts when Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), the government office in charge of processing these applications, receives the alien’s application for citizenship, the supporting documents, and fees.  If the application is complete, CIS issues a receipt notice with a priority date and a case number.  Then, CIS sends to the applicant and/or his/her attorney notices for fingerprints, and request for evidence, if necessary.  Lastly, the applicant is scheduled for an interview where the applicant will take his/her English and civics test. If approved, applicant will have to later attend a naturalization ceremony where he/she swears allegiance to the United States and its flag. Applicant will receive a certificate of naturalization that proves his/her United States citizenship.

Automatic Citizenship

The son or daughter under 18 years of age of a naturalized U.S. citizen may acquire automatic citizenship provided that other requirements are met.  This automatic citizenship must be requested to CIS through a special form designed for this purpose. This form must be submitted with evidence and an immigration fee. Attorney Martha L. Arias recommends applicants to consult an immigration attorney to determine if their children qualify for automatic citizenship.

Attorney Martha L. Arias can help you prepare and submit your petition for naturalization and that of your children that qualify for automatic citizenship. Become a United States citizen! Call now for a telephonic consultation! We can advise and assist you no matter what state within the U.S. you are!

Martha L. Arias, Esq. - Immigration Law Attorney