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Citizenship- An Overview

U.S. citizenship has considerable benefits. U.S. citizens are able to petition for family members quicker and with fewer restrictions than permanent residents (green card holders). U.S. citizens are able to spend indefinite periods of time abroad without risking losing their status. U.S. citizens are eligible to vote and cannot be deported. Under certain circumstances, the children of U.S. citizens born abroad automatically acquire U.S. citizenship, too.

Naturalization is a process through which an individual applies to be granted U.S. citizenship. We can help you determine if naturalization is the right step for you, and assist you in the process.

Naturalization

Are you a permanent resident? Depending on how long you have had your residency and how much time you have spent abroad, you may be eligible to naturalize and become a U.S. citizen. If you became a permanent resident through marriage to a U.S. citizen, you may be eligible to naturalize in as little as three years. Most permanent residents who obtained their status through other means will be eligible to naturalize in five years. If you are serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, you may be eligible to naturalize even sooner- even if you have not yet become a permanent resident.

When you apply to naturalize, an officer from U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services will interview you and review your immigration history.

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Depending on your age and the length of time you have been a permanent resident (green card holder) you must also pass a civics exam and a test of your ability to speak, read and write in English. Waivers of some of these requirements are available for individuals based on age or disability.

Contact our office to see if you are eligible for naturalization, or a waiver of the English or civics requirements.

Individuals with a criminal record are strongly encouraged to consult an attorney before applying to naturalize. Contact us to discuss whether it is advisable for you to apply to naturalize.

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Acquired Citizenship

If one or both of your biological parents were a U.S. citizen when you were born abroad, you may have acquired citizenship at birth. Some people acquire U.S. citizenship through parents who didn’t know they were U.S. citizens!

Many individuals are unaware that they acquired U.S. citizenship at birth. If either of your parents was born in the United States, or if any of your grandparents were born in the U.S. and your parents lived in the U.S. before you were born, you may have acquired U.S. citizenship. Contact us to schedule a consultation to find out.

Derivative Citizenship

If you were a permanent resident and under the age of 18 when your parent became a U.S. citizen, you may have become a U.S. citizen automatically through a process called Derivative citizenship. Adopted children may also derive citizenship under certain circumstances.

If you have derived citizenship, you must apply to have your citizenship recognized. Contact our office for more information.

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