THE BASICS OF CITIZENSHIP & NATURALIZATION
The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants citizenship at birth to individuals born in the United States and its jurisdictions across the world. However, certain individuals born in other countries may obtain U.S. citizenship through the process called “naturalization.” When you are naturalized, you agree to the responsibilities of being a U.S. citizen, such as demonstrating loyalty to the Constitution and a willingness to bear arms for the country if such action is required. You are also bestowed with the rights and privileges of citizenship, some of which are listed below. Most foreign
WHAT DO I NEED TO BECome a citizen?
Generally, to be eligible for naturalization you must:
Beage 18 or older;
- Be a permanent resident for 5 years (if you obtained your green card on your own) or 3 years (if you obtained your green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen and you are currently still living with that citizen);
- Be a person of good moral character;
- Have a period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States (with the length of the time period depending on how the green card was obtained);
- Be able to pass a short test regarding U.S. history and government; and
- Be able to read, write, and speak English (unlesss you qualify for an English wavier that allows you to take the exam in your foreign language).
There are some exceptions to this list, and each naturalization case is unique. It is best to consult an immigration attorney to review your specific case and determine whether or not you qualify for naturalization.
WHAT ARE some BENEFITS OF BECOMING A CITIZEN?
As stated by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services’ (USCIS) Guide to Naturalization, citizens enjoy the following benefits:
- Voting in Federal elections and certain state elections
- Petitioning for other family members
- Obtaining citizenship for children born abroad
- Traveling with a U.S. passport
- Becoming eligible for federal jobs or the position of an elected official
- Becoming eligible for federal grants or scholarships
what are some responsibilities of u.S. Citizens?
All applicants for citizenship must take an Oath of Allegiance in which they promise the following:
- To give up all prior allegiances to any other nation or sovereignty;
- To swear allegiance to the United States;
- To support and defend the Consitution and the laws of the United States; and
- To serve the country when required.
There are other responsibilities not enumerated in the Oath such as jury duty and prompt payment of federal, state and local taxes.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me about citizenship!
can I have dual citizenship?
Dual citizenship (or dual nationality) means that a person is a national of two countries at the same time. Every country has its own nationality laws. Certain countries will require revocation of citizenship if the foreign national decides to become a U.S. citizen. However, many countries do not require revocation. Some examples include Mexico, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Information on losing foreign nationality can be obtained through the foreign country’s embassy and consulates in the United States.
what if I have a criminal record?
Permanent residents with criminal records must be careful when deciding to apply for U.S. citizenship. The application for naturalization requires that the foreign national reveal a lot of personal information, especially with regard to a criminal background. Some of this acquired information could even lead to the government initiating deportation proceedings against the foreign national. This is not to scare you, but to highly suggest that a consultation with an immigration lawyer may be in order. Depending on the type of crime, the severity of the crime and when the crime occurred, you may or may not be eligible for naturalization.