Citizenship Through Parents
Sometimes people are already U.S. citizens and do not even know it. There are two general ways to obtain citizenship through your parents: (1) at birth (born a US citizen) or (2) after birth but before you reach the age of eighteen (deriving US citizenship through a parent’s naturalization). Determining whether you may have citizenship through your parents is one of the most complex areas of immigration law, and congress has amended these laws multiple times. Schedule a consultation with the Law Office of Karen Winston if you believe you may have derived U.S. citizenship.
Citizenship through Naturalization
A foreign citizen can become a U.S. citizen through a process called naturalization. The privilege of citizenship requires allegiance to the United States. In return, a citizen is entitled to its protection. It makes sense to hire an attorney to help you with naturalization – the application must be completed correctly, and the applicant must pass three tests to be naturalized (reading, writing, and history/civics).
The following are the basic requirements foreign nationals must meet to be eligible for United States citizenship:
(1) Admitted to permanent resident status;
(2) Have a continuous residence in the United States for at least five years for most permanent residents (and at least three years for those married to a U.S. citizen);
(3) Reside in the U.S. state from where they are applying for at least three months;
(4) Have the ability to read, write, and speak English (certain older applicants may receive an exemption from this requirement if their residence is of long standing);
(5) Have knowledge of U.S. history and government (unless qualifies for a disability waiver- see below);
(6) Be of good moral character;
(7) Maintain continuous residence in the U.S. from the date of filing the naturalization application until actual admission to citizenship; (8) Have been physically present in the United States for at least 2.5 years (1.5 years for most spouses of U.S. citizens);
(8) through your parents: (1) at birth born a US citizen) or (2) after birth but before you reach the age of eighteen (deriving US citizenship through a parent’s naturalization.
(9) Be at least 18 years old at the time of filing for naturalization (subject to certain exceptions); and
(10) Support the principles of the U.S. Constitution.
Disability Waiver- If someone has a physical or mental condition they believe prevents them from learning English, they may qualify for a disability waiver. The waiver requirements are complex and a person seeking a disability waiver should consult with an attorney.
USCIS provides resources to help persons study for the Citizenship test. Study materials are available here: Download Study Materials
Please note that the online study materials include multiple choice questions. At your actual interview however, you will be verbally asked questions and will not be given a multiple choice test, so you need to be able to state the full answer.
Some of the Rights and Privileges of Citizenship include:
Voting- You can vote for the politician of your choice and have full participation in United States democracy.
Holding Public Office- You can run for, be elected to, and serve in any public office, except President and Vice President of the United States.
State and Federal Employment- As a U.S. citizen, you are eligible for all state and federal jobs, and other jobs where U.S. citizenship is required.
Extending citizenship to your children- If you become a citizen before your children turn 18, in most cases they also become citizens and receive benefits that all citizens are entitled to.
Reuniting Families- You can help more of your family members come to the United States. In addition to your spouse and unmarried children, you can also petition for your parents, married children, siblings (married or single), and fiancé. In most cases unmarried children of U.S. citizens get permanent residence faster if the parents are citizens than if the parents are permanent residents.
Traveling- Finally, you have the privilege of traveling in and out of the United States more freely and you enjoy the benefits of holding a U.S. Passport.
The Law Office of Karen Winston will be at your side through every step of the Naturalization process. This includes working closely with you to complete your N-400 application, gathering and submitting supporting documentation and drafting memorandums of law, preparing you for your interview with a USCIS Officer, submitting any waivers or requesting any exemptions for which you may be eligible, and attending your interview. Our office is also prepared to handle complex naturalization cases for persons with extensive travel outside the U.S. or criminal convictions.
Warning: Any lawful permanent resident who has ever been arrested and charged with a crime, no matter how minor or how long ago, should proceed carefully if considering applying for naturalization as a United States citizen. Instead of granting citizenship, USCIS may place such a permanent resident in removal proceedings. If you are a lawful permanent resident with a criminal record (even if it was sealed or expunged), the Law Office of Karen Winston can consult with you to determine whether you risk being placed into removal proceedings when you apply for citizenship or any other immigration benefit.