How Do I Become a Naturalized Citizen?

February 19, 2020

For eligible permanent residents, becoming an American citizen may seem daunting at first. It involves an extensive application, visits to an immigration office, background checks, substantial fees, an interview with an immigration officer, and passing an American civics test. Yet, in just the most recent fiscal year, over 750,000 individuals successfully completed the process and were welcomed as new American citizens in cities across the nation. There are several steps that people can take to begin their citizenship journey that ultimately ends in taking the oath of allegiance in a formal naturalization ceremony.

People acquire U.S. citizenship by birth or through the naturalization process. The first is by being born in the United States or certain U.S. territories or by being born abroad to citizen parents. The second is by what is commonly referred to as naturalization. This means meeting the requirements to apply for citizenship and undergoing an application process and test.

Steps to Take

First, those interested must determine if they meet the general requirements. Citizenship, in addition to giving special rights and protections, also confers a civic responsibility. An applicant must be at least 18 years old and must have been a permanent resident for at least five years. If married to an American citizen, one must be a permanent resident for a minimum of three years. If these are met, the applicant meets the basic requirements of acquiring U.S. citizenship. However, this is not the complete picture of eligibility.

Some of the challenges that arise pertain to additional eligibility requirements. The applicant must demonstrate that they maintained a physical presence in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the five years prior. The applicant must also show that they have continuously resided in the U.S. for five years.

Some applicants can be challenged by the requirement to speak, read, and write the English language, particularly older or disabled people. Special waivers in certain cases are available. Another potential barrier is the requirement of good moral character. Certain criminal offenses can bar the applicant, but it is best to discuss the details candidly with a lawyer experienced in these cases. Individuals must show that they agree with the principles of the U.S. Constitution, as well as have a basic knowledge of history and government.

A lawful permanent resident should be prepared before submitting the Application for Naturalization and required fees. The process of culminating in an oath of allegiance to the United States and its rights and responsibilities is one that millions of immigrants have experienced and represents a significant milestone for each. Before you begin, consulting an immigration lawyer will ensure that you are prepared and receive skilled advice on any barriers or concerns.

Vineland Immigration Lawyers at the MC Law Group, LLC Help Clients with Citizenship Concerns

If you have concerns about the process of obtaining U.S. citizenship, contact the Vineland immigration lawyers at the MC Law Group, LLC. We have represented numerous individuals undergoing the application to become an American citizen and will help you address the individual legal issues that arise. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the tri-state area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide. Please contact us online for a free consultation to discuss your case or call us at 215-496-0690.