As a general matter, an immigrant may apply for citizenship, or naturalization, if she has been a lawful permanent resident, or “green card” holder, for at least five years. Further, a lawful permanent resident may apply for naturalization if she is married to a U.S. citizen and has been a lawful permanent resident for at least three years. Additionally, an applicant for naturalization must establish that she is a person of good moral character.
The grant of citizenship is discretionary. As such, applicants who have ever had any arrests or convictions should consult with an immigration attorney prior to submitting a naturalization application in order to determine if their criminal histories could result in a denial. This is especially true of the applicant has had any arrests or convictions after being granted lawful permanent residence.
The naturalization application process also includes an oral examination by an immigration officer at which time the applicant must establish her ability to speak basic English, and her knowledge of basic civic information concerning the United States. However, some immigrants may be able to have the examination conducted in their native languages depending on their ages and length of time that they have been lawful permanent residents. Additionally, some immigrants may be exempt from the civics portion of the examination if they have a qualifying disability that impedes them from learning and remembering new information.
Acquired and Derived Citizenship
In certain circumstances, an immigrant may actually be a U.S. citizen as of the time of their birth, or may have become a citizen due to the naturalization of their parents. Such a determination requires a detailed analysis of the immigrant’s case, including the facts relevant to the immigrant, her parents, and the laws that existed at certain times in the immigrant’s and her parent’s lives.
The attorneys of the Franco Law Group are available to discuss your eligibility for naturalization, and to prepare you for the citizenship examination. Additionally, our attorneys are experienced in conducting acquired and derived citizenship analyses and can determine if you are, in fact, already a U.S. citizen by operation of law.