Areas of Practice | Naturalization

Overview

Naturalization is a process in which a person not born in the United States obtains official U.S. citizenship. The requirements for naturalization are established by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The general requirements for administrative naturalization include:

  • A period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States;
  • Residence in a particular USCIS District prior to filing;
  • An ability to read, write, and speak English;
  • A knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government;
  • Good moral character;
  • Attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution; and,
  • Favorable disposition toward the United States.

At first glance confusion may exist over the difference between physical presence and continuous presence.

- Physical Presence concerns the total number of days required in the United States to obtain citizenship.
- Continuous Presence refers to a period of physical presence with no absences.

  • Often, a absence of one (1) year will break continuous presence;
  • Absence of six (6) months or more often requires proof of extenuating circumstances; and
  • Certain scenarios of undocumented absence of less then six (6) months can also break continuous presence.

Some regulations are applicable to all, such as good moral character. Other regulations vary significantly, such as physical presence, based on the applicant’s status (single, married, children, employment, and military service all alter the regulation requirements of physical presence).

We recommend retaining an attorney prior to any specific problems that may arise in proving any of the criteria necessary for your application. As mentioned these problems may arise from a confusion over what is required for each applicant, in proving that the requirements are satisfied (for instance, defending against a criminal charge when proving good moral character), or recognizing which criteria may be waived so you may get your citizenship earlier.

Some Specific Filing Requirements for N-400 (Naturalization Application) include

1. Lawful permanent resident for at least five (5) years
OR
2. A lawful permanent resident for at least three (3) years
AND
(a) You have been married with the same U.S. citizen for the last three (3) years AND
(b) Your spouse has been a U.S. citizen for the last three (3) years
OR
3. You are a member of a certain group applicable for naturalization (such as a national who is not yet a citizen) and are of 18 years of age
OR
4. A person who has served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces
AND
(a) Are a lawful resident at least eighteen (18) years of age with at least one (1) year of service completed AND
(b) Within six (6) months of Honorable Termination of service or after Honorable Discharge
OR
5. You served honorably as a member of the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve or in active-duty status during a designated period of hostilities.

Benefits of becoming a citizen of the United States include…

  • Voting;
  • Priority in bringing family members to the United States over non citizens;
  • Obtaining Citizenship for children, locally or abroad;
  • Traveling with a passport, which allows priority access to U.S. government abroad; and
  • Allows you to apply for federal jobs or run for office

If you believe you meet any of these criteria or have another status (such as the special status that attaches to certain children of lawful permanent residents or citizens, or special waivers applicable to senior age groups) that would qualify you for naturalization despite lacking certain criteria, please contact our office.

Strasser Asatrian, LLC, offers experienced legal advice, assistance, and representation while navigating these complex paths and the obstacles that may arise due to you individual needs and circumstances. We recommend you retain a lawyer to help you obtain citizenship as swiftly as possible.

The USCIS Naturalization Homepage (http://www.uscis.gov/naturalization/) provides valuable information should you desire to research any topics on your own.