Naturalization and Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship

Eligibility for Naturalization

Permanent residents of the United States (green card holders) are eligible to apply for naturalization after five years of “continuous residence” in the U.S., with a requirement that they have been physically present in the U.S. for at least half that time and are able to show good moral character. Applicants who are living in marital union with a U.S. citizen may apply after only three years of maintaining permanent resident status. Continuous residence may be interrupted by extended periods of stay outside the United States. Expert legal guidance is essential to avoid losing permanent residence or experiencing significant delays in becoming eligible for naturalization.

Naturalization Process

The Naturalization process begins with the filing of Form N-400 with USCIS, followed by an appointment for biometrics (fingerprinting and photos), and then a personal interview at the USCIS office with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence. At the interview, the applicant is tested on English language ability and knowledge of U.S. history and civics. The interview also addresses issues such as compliance with immigration, selective service and tax laws, traffic citations, and travel outside the U.S.

Our office offers services in the preparation and filing of Naturalization applications, with the option of attorney preparation for, and presence at, the interview and exam.

Acquisition of Citizenship for Children of U.S. Citizens

Children of American citizens may derive U.S. citizenship from their parent(s) if they were born overseas to U.S. citizen parents, or upon the naturalization of a parent to U.S. citizenship when the child is under the age of 18. This is known as derivative citizenship. The rules on derivative citizenship have changed many times over the years, so a detailed analysis of requirements and possible evidence is necessary.

Our office can assist in determining whether a child or adult has U.S. citizenship derived from a parent, and in the preparation and filing of applications for Certificates of Citizenship, as documentary evidence of U.S. citizen status.