There are 4 ways to obtain U.S. citizenship:
- by birth in the U.S. or its territories (e.g., Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands);
- by birth outside of the U.S. to a U.S. parent;
- by naturalization;
- by naturalization of a parent while a child is under the age of 18.
Naturalization is the main process for becoming a U.S. citizen. There are several eligibility requirements which must be met to become a U.S. citizen by naturalization:
- the immigrant must be 18 years of age or older;
- the immigrant must have resided continuously in the U.S. for 5 years as a lawful permanent resident (LPR);
- the immigrant must have been present in the U.S. for at least half of the time during the 5 years immediately prior to filing the petition for naturalization, with some exceptions (an absence of more than 6 months but less than one year is permissible if the immigrant proves that he/she did not abandon the U.S. residence during such period, however an absence for one year or more breaks the continuity of residence at a matter of law);
- the immigrant must have resided in the district within which the petition for naturalization is filed for at least 3 months;
- the immigrant must be able to speak and understand simple English, as well as read and write it, with some exceptions (unless there is physical or developmental disability or mental impairment);
- the immigrant must have a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history and principles and forms of the U.S. government (persons with qualifying disability are exempt from this requirement);
- the immigrant must show that during the 5-year period before filing and up until the naturalization hearing he/she has had good moral character (e.g., habitual drunkards, persons convicted of a crime of moral turpitude or an aggravated felony, involved with prostitution, drug trafficking, or illegal gambling, or convicted and jailed for 180 days or more will not be considered of good moral character)
- the immigrant must show that he/she is attached to the principles of the U.S. Constitution and well-disposed to the good order and happiness of the U.S.
The petition for naturalization may be submitted up to 90 days before the immigrant becomes eligible. At Anna Handy Law Firm, P.A., we can guide you through a naturalization process and save you a lot of time and money. Call us now for a consultation. (386) 248-3000.