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Applying for US Citizenship

People gain citizenship in the U.S. by a variety of methods. One is a citizen simply by being born in the U.S., whether the parent is a citizen or not, or by being born in an American territory of the U.S. One is also considered a U.S. citizen if he or she is born abroad if a parent was an American citizen at the time of birth.

The citizenship application process is time-consuming, lengthy, and complex. Our Immigration attorneys can help you navigate the process of applying for U.S. citizenship.


Naturalization Overview

If you are not born into citizenship, you can become naturalized after gaining permanent residency status. If you are a member of a select group where special status is conferred, other naturalization provisions will apply. This includes persons in the following categories:

  • Being on active duty in the U.S. Armed Services
  • A spouse of a U.S. citizen who is a member of U.S. Armed Services who is on active duty or who died while on active duty
  • An employee or contractor of the U.S. government
  • An employee of an American research institute
  • An employee of an American-owned enterprise
  • An employee of a public international organization
  • A religious worker or clergy
  • Other special categories

For most other applicants, they must be at least 18 years of age and meet the following conditions:

  • Be a permanent resident for five years (3 years for some applicants)
  • If a male, have applied for Selective Service after turning 18 and before age 26
  • Not have been absent from the U.S. for 30 months in the past five years or not have been absent for more than one year at any one time
  • Established at least a three-month residency in a U.S. state or district
  • Have the ability to read, write and speak basic English
  • Understand and have knowledge of U.S. history and principles of government
  • Possess good moral character
  • Be willing to perform civilian or military duty for the U.S. if required by law
  • Be willing to support the U.S. Constitution
  • Be willing to take an oath of allegiance to the U.S.
  • If you are married to and living with a U.S. citizen, you need only be in the U.S. for three years as a permanent resident. Also, the following must be true:
  • You have been married to a U.S. citizen for three years
  • the spouse has been a U.S. citizen for three years
  • You have not been out of the country for 18 or more months in the past three years

Certain exceptions and circumstances do not prevent you from applying for naturalization if you were absent from the U.S. during these time periods, such as working for a U.S. contractor or being on a U.S. vessel at sea. Individuals in this type of situation can file an Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes, or Form N-470.

There are also situations where some applicants for naturalization are excused from the English proficiency requirement. This includes persons who are over 50 and have lived in the U.S. for 20 years before becoming a permanent resident, or those who are at least 55 years old and have lived in the U.S. for 15 years before becoming a permanent resident. Applicants with disabilities may also qualify to be exempt from the English and civics requirements.

The application for naturalization is form N-400. Once submitted and accepted, the applicant is sent a notice for a biometrics appointment and then scheduled for the citizenship interview.


U.S. Citizenship Interview

After years of waiting, the citizenship interview finally looms for naturalization applicants. This can be nerve-wracking but with adequate preparation and by telling the truth, most people should have little difficulty passing the citizenship quiz and doing well enough at the interview to be granted naturalization.

When the interview is complete, the officer should give you a Form N-652 that informs you whether your application has been granted or denied, or if your naturalization case was continued.

If your application was denied, be sure to contact us at Nuñez & Associates, our immigration attorneys can advise you on appeal procedures or counsel you on your options.


Marriage-based US Citizenship Interview

One common procedure by which non-citizens can gain citizenship is through marriage to a U.S. citizen; however, the marriage must be legitimate. While fraudulent marriages are not uncommon, even immigrants who married for all the right reasons may have difficulty convincing a USCIS officer of their marriage’s legitimacy when questioned at their citizenship interview.

The USCIS will likely question your spouse if there is any doubt or skepticism in the officer’s mind about your marriage. Therefore, to prepare for the citizenship interview, review the following areas with your spouse to make sure your responses are aligned:

— Before the Marriage
— Wedding Details
— Daily Living Routine
— Family Members
— Household Details
— Birthdays and Holidays

Once the interview is completed, the officer can grant permanent resident status, conditional status if the marriage is less than two years old, or schedule a follow-up in 60 to 90days. The main goal is for you and your spouse to be thoroughly prepared.

Contact our office so one of our trained immigration attorneys can help you through the citizenship application process.