U.S. citizenship is the most-sought-for legal status in the United States, imposing specific duties, and granting individuals certain rights and privileges, including the ability to vote, travel with a U.S. passport, and petition for family members to immigrate. There are two ways of obtaining U.S. citizenship for those who were born outside the U.S.: naturalization and acquisition.
Naturalization is the process through which foreign nationals become U.S. citizens. At JQK Law, we guide individuals through the complex process of naturalization. We understand the significance of this milestone and are dedicated to providing expert assistance and support.
The naturalization process generally involves the following steps:
- Determine Eligibility. The first step is to determine whether you meet the eligibility requirements for naturalization. Some of the key criteria include being at least 18 years old, being a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) for a specific period, demonstrating continuous residence and physical presence in the United States, being a person of good moral character,r and meeting certain English language and civics knowledge requirements.
- File Form N-400. Once eligibility is established, an applicant files Form N-400, the Application for Naturalization, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This application requires detailed information about applicant’s background, immigration history, and personal circumstances.
- Biometrics Appointment. After submitting your application, you will be scheduled for a biometrics appointment. At this appointment, your fingerprints, photograph, and signature will be taken for background checks.
- Interview and Examination. Following the biometrics appointment, you will be scheduled for an interview with a USCIS officer. The timeline depends on the local USCIS Field Office’s availability. During the interview, your application will be reviewed, and you will be tested on your knowledge of English and U.S. history, the principles and form of the U.S. government. The officer will also assess your good moral character and verify the information provided in your application. During the naturalization interview the officer can inquire about the details of how you obtained your permanent residency and make sure there were no errors back then.
- Oath of Allegiance. If your application is approved, you will be scheduled for a ceremony to take the Oath of Allegiance. This oath signifies your commitment to uphold the principles and laws of the United States. After taking the oath, you will officially become a U.S. citizen. And issued a naturalization certificate.
Some may think that the naturalization process is easy and straightforward, but in fact even a small incident, like a simple DUI, or something that happened 20 or 30 years ago, like a second citizenship that was never disclosed to the U.S. government, can get problematic. For some applicants, it is better to stay green card holders and never apply for naturalization, as they may end up in removal proceedings. If you are considering filing for naturalization, please consult an attorney.
The naturalization process and requirements vary based on individual circumstances, such as military service, marriage to a U.S. citizen, or eligibility for exemptions. Working with experienced immigration attorneys can greatly increase the chances of a successful naturalization application.
Acquisition of Citizenship
Acquisition of U.S. citizenship refers to the process by which an individual who was born outside the U.S. becomes a citizen of the United States either at birth or after birth, but before the age of 18, if one or both of their parents are U.S. citizens. Those who are born in the U.S. are citizens at birth. There are a few exceptions to this rule, for example, children of foreign diplomats born in the U.S. are not U.S. citizens at birth.
At JQK Law, we assist individuals with the acquisition of U.S. citizenship and guide them through the complex process involved.
The process of acquiring U.S. citizenship through parents generally involves the following steps:
- Eligibility Determination. The first step is to determine if you meet the eligibility requirements for acquiring U.S. citizenship through your parents. These requirements typically include having one or both parents who are U.S. citizens, meeting specific residency criteria, and establishing a biological or legal parent-child relationship.
- Document Preparation. Once eligibility is established, our experienced immigration attorneys will guide you through the necessary documentation and forms required to support your application. This may include Forms N-600, N-600K, or Application for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), your birth certificate, parent(s)’ U.S. citizenship documentation, marriage and divorce certificates, evidence demonstrating the U.S. citizen parent(s)’ or grandparent(s)’ presence in the U.S., and any other relevant supporting materials depending on your particular situation and the process involved (N-600, N-600K or CRBA).
- Application Submission. The completed application, along with the supporting documents, will be submitted either to USCIS or to the U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. They will assess the application to ensure it meets the requirements for the acquisition of U.S. citizenship through parents.
- Interview and Decision. Depending on the circumstances, you may be scheduled for an interview. During the interview, USCIS or the U.S. consular post will verify the information provided in the application and may ask additional questions about your parentage and eligibility for citizenship and issue a decision.
- Certificate of Citizenship or Consular Report of Birth Abroad. If your application is approved, you will receive either a Certificate of Citizenship or CRBA, which serves as official documentation of your U.S. citizenship. This certificate provides proof of your citizenship and is a valuable document for future identification purposes.
Our experienced immigration attorneys are well-versed in the complex legal requirements and procedures involved in the processes of naturalization and acquisition of U.S. citizenship. We provide personalized guidance, assist with document preparation, and ensure that your application meets all necessary criteria.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation. Together, we will work towards achieving your goal of obtaining U.S. citizenship and embracing the rights and privileges that come with it.