BECOMING A U.S. CITIZEN THROUGH NATURALIZATION

Have you been a lawful permanent resident for at least 5 years or have you been married to and are living with a U.S. citizen for the last three years?

If so, you should consider applying to become a U.S. citizen through naturalization.

Benefits of U.S. Citizenship include:

  • Voting
  • Bringing family members to the United States
  • Obtaining citizenship for children born abroad
  • Traveling with a U.S. passport
  • Becoming eligible for Federal jobs
  • Becoming an elected official

 

Eligibility Requirements for Lawful Permanent Residents:

  •  Be age 18 or older; and
  •  Be a permanent resident for at least 5 years, or 3 years if married to and living with a U.S. citizen;
  •  Be a person of good moral character;
  •  Have a period of continuous residence and physical     presence in the U.S.
  •  Have a basic knowledge of U.S. government; and
  •  Be able to read, write, and speak basic English.

 

What if…..

  • I do not read, write, or speak basic English.

 

If you are 50 years old or older and have lived in the U.S. as a permanent resident for 20 years, you are exempt from the English language requirement, but are still required to take the civics test. 

If you are 55 years old or older and have lived in the U.S. as a permanent resident for 15 years, you are exempt from the English language requirement, but are still required to take the civics test.

If you are 65 years or older and have been a permanent resident for at least 20 years at the time of filing for naturalization, you are exempt from the English language requirement and will be given special consideration regarding the civics requirement.

  • I am physically or mentally disabled.

 

You may be eligible for an exception to the English and civics naturalization requirements if you are unable to comply with these requirements because of a physical or developmental disability or a mental impairment.  Your doctor or psychologist will need to fill out a specific form (N-648) to include with your naturalization application.

  • I spend a lot of time outside the U.S.

 

You must spend at least half of the time of the 5 or 3 year period inside the U.S., and you cannot have any absences greater than 180 consecutive days.  If you travel outside the U.S. for a day and return the same day, this period will not count as time spend outside the U.S.  If you spend a lot of time outside the U.S., you may need to prove your physical presence with documentation demonstrating that the U.S. is your residence.  Please consult with an attorney for further advice.

  • I have been convicted of a crime.

 

If you have been convicted of a crime, you need to consult with an attorney before you apply to naturalize as certain offenses will make you deportable.  If you are currently on probation, you are not eligible to naturalize.  However, you may be eligible for early termination of probation and may become eligible to naturalize.  Please consult with an attorney for further advice.

  • I have been cited for a minor traffic offense with the last 3 or 5 years.

 

Minor traffic offenses, excluding DUIs or drug-related traffic offenses, will not render you ineligible to naturalize.  You must be certain to list your traffic citations on your application.

  • I have had problem with immigration authorities.

 

If you have had any problems with immigration authorities in the past, please consult with an attorney before you apply to naturalize.   You may still be eligible to naturalize, but you need the advice of an immigration attorney.

  • I have not paid local, state, or federal taxes since I got my green card or you owe local state, or federal taxes.

 

Failure to pay taxes relates to your good moral character.  If you have failed to pay your taxes since you became a lawful permanent resident or you owe taxes, you will need to demonstrate that you are in the process of paying what you owe to the government when you apply to naturalize.  Please consult with an attorney for further advice.

  • I owe child support to my former spouse or the mother of my children

 

Failure to pay child support relates to your good moral character.  If you owe child support, you will need to demonstrate that you are paying your child support when you apply to naturalize.  Please consult with an attorney for further advice.

 

How to apply:

  • Complete and file the application (N-400) with USCIS
  • Include a filing fee of $680 or qualify for a fee waiver
  • Include 2 passport-sized photos
  • Include a copy of your green card (if your green card is expired or have lost your green cared, you will need to simultaneously file an application for a new green card).