Happy Constitution Day! U.S. Citizenship Through Naturalization
September 16, 2016
It’s Constitution Day and Citizenship Day in the United States. On this day in 1787, the Founding Fathers signed the U.S. Constitution and recognized those Americans who became citizens. It is in that spirit that we wanted to discuss citizenship and naturalization laws in today’s blog post.
U.S. citizenship status has many benefits and privileges. Among others, citizens gain the right to vote, the right to a U.S. passport so that they may travel in and out of the country freely, and are eligible for government benefits and financial aid for college. For many immigrants, primarily permanent residents (“green card” holders), citizenship means you can reunite your family. As a citizen, you are more easily able to sponsor your spouse, minor children, and parents to come live with you in the U.S. as permanent residents. They too are then on track to become U.S. citizens.
Naturalization – the process a permanent resident goes through to become a U.S. citizen – can be hard to navigate and requires a lot of time and resources to complete. Generally, the requirements to become a U.S. citizen are as follows:
Age Requirement: You must be 18 years old to apply for U.S. citizenship.
Filing Fee: The naturalization application is not free. In fact, immigrants incur high costs to submit the application, without knowing whether or not their application will be approved. In addition to a filing fee that must be paid with all new applications ($595), applicants must pay for background check costs, mailing, and travel to and from their eligibility interview and naturalization exam.
Residency Requirements: Permanent residents must have resided in the U.S. under their lawful status for a specific period of time. The exact period of time depends on your particular circumstances. Most naturalization applicants must have resided lawfully in the U.S. under their green card for a minimum of five years. Residence also includes one’s physical residence, meaning a permanent resident must demonstrate that they’ve resided in a particular place (i.e. state) for a continuous period of time.
Good Moral Character: Applicants for citizenship must show that they do not have serious criminal issues in their past. There are some acts that can permanently bar one from becoming a U.S. citizen.
Interview: All applicants must attend a naturalization interview to determine their eligibility for citizenship and to review their application.
Understand the English Language: All applicants must take a naturalization exam to test of their ability to speak, read, and write English.
Understand Basic Principles of U.S. Government: A portion of the naturalization exam includes a civics exam which tests an applicant’s knowledge of U.S. government and history.
Attend the Oath Ceremony: Once the naturalization application has been approved, applicants are scheduled for an oath ceremony where they receive their Certificates of Naturalization from the agency.
Becoming a citizen of the United States is an important and meaningful moment for the applicant and his or her family. If you are looking to begin the naturalization process, it’s important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to help you navigate the process. Call Chokshi Filippone Law LLC to set up your consultation today.