Naturalization and US Citizenship

Naturalization is the process by which US citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Typically, person may qualify for Naturalization, if:

  • She/ He has been a permanent resident for at least 5 years or 3 years if files as a spouse of a U.S. citizen and meets all other eligibility requirements.
  • She/ He has qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements.
  • A child may qualify for naturalization if his/her parent is a U.S. citizen, the child was born outside the U.S., the child is currently residing outside the U.S., and all other eligibility  requirements are met.

Note: A child may already be a U.S. citizen and not need to apply for naturalization if his/her biological or adoptive parent(s) became a U.S. citizen before child reached the age of 18.

Eligibility requirements

If you are a green card holder of at least 5 years or 3 years, if you are spouse of a U.S. citizen, you must
meet the following requirements in order to apply for naturalization:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Be a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the Application for Naturalization
  • Have lived within the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing the application
  • Have continuous residence in the United States as a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of the filing the application
  • Be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
  • Reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization up to the time of naturalization
  • Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (civics).
  • Be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during  all relevant periods under the law

Who qualifies for expedited Naturalization?

A person may be able to naturalize without having resided in the United States for 3 years if he/she is married to a US citizen who is stationed abroad for work with an American company, an international or a religious organization with a presence in the U.S.

An applicant for expedited naturalization under Section 319(b) must be the spouse of a US citizen who is regularly stationed abroad (USCIS interpreter it to mean that your spouse is contracted to work abroad for at least a year from the time of your interview), in the employment of:

  • The government of the US (includes military).
  • An American institution of research recognized as such by the Attorney General.
  • An American firm or corporation engaged in whole or in part in the development of foreign trade or commerce, or a subsidiary thereof.
  • A public international organization in which the US participates. Minister or priest of a religious denomination having a bona fide organization in the US.
  • Missionary.

Persons eligible for expeditious naturalization must file their applications in the US from their overseas location. After your spouse's overseas employment ends, you must intend to take up residence in United States.

How can a child born abroad acquire U.S citizenship?

If only one parent is an American citizen and your child was born before November 14, 1986, the American parent must prove that he or she resided in the United States for a total of 10 years prior to the birth of the child, at least 5 of those years after the parent turned 14 years old.

If your child was born after November 14, 1986, the American parent must prove a total of 5 years of physical presence in the United States prior to the birth of the child, at least 2 of those years after the parent turned 14.

PLEASE NOTE: The burden of proof lies on the American citizen parent and not on officer  who may adjudicate your case. You should make every effort to bring the required documents in order to obtain citizenship for your child. If you cannot meet the physical presence requirement or cannot obtain sufficient evidence that you were in the United States, you may wish consider an alternative of conferring citizenship to your child through your U.S. citizens  parents for expedited naturalization.

A Child Born out of Marriage

A child born abroad out of marriage with a U.S. Citizen Father: A child born abroad out-of-wedlock to a U.S. citizen father may acquire U.S. citizenship provided:

    1. a blood relationship between the applicant and the father is established by clear and convincing evidence;
    2. the father had the nationality of the United States at the time of the applicant's birth;
    3. the father (unless deceased) had agreed in writing to provide financial support for the person until the applicant reaches the age of 18 years, and
    4. while the person is under the age of 18 years
      • applicant is legitimated under the law of their residence or domicile,
      • father acknowledges paternity of the person in writing under oath, or
      • the paternity of the applicant is established by adjudication court.

A child born abroad out of marriage to a U.S. Citizen Mother: A child born abroad out-of-wedlock to a U.S. citizen mother may acquire U.S. citizenship if the mother was a U.S. citizen at the time of the child's birth, and if the mother had previously been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year.

GRANDCHILDREN OF AMERICAN CITIZENS

If you and the child are residing abroad, the Child may be eligible for EXPEDITIOUS NATURALIZATION if your parent, the Child's U.S. Citizen Grandparent, was physically present in the United States for the time period required by the Law. The Grandparent can be living or deceased at the time of the application. If deceased, the Grandparent must have been a citizen prior to the child's birth and at the time of the grandparent's death. An application may be filed in any district of U.S.

Immigration laws can be extremely complicated. As each case is unique and different, we recommend that you consult with an immigration lawyer with experience in naturalization cases before applying for this process to see if you qualify for the most important immigration benefit.

Naturalization Delays. What Can Be Done
Who Qualifies For Expedited Naturalization Under Section 319(b)
How Can A Child Born Abroad Acquire U.S. Citizenship