Citizenship & Naturalization

The ultimate goal of many immigrants to the US is citizenship through naturalization, which is the acquisition of citizenship after birth.

The most basic requirement for naturalization is that the applicant must be at least 18 years old. Children younger than 18 whose parents are naturalized automatically obtain US citizenship. If you have a criminal history, please contact Norris McLaughlin before you apply for naturalization, as issues may arise.

There are a number of requirements related to residency in the US that must be satisfied for naturalization. In most cases, the applicant must have continuously resided in the US for five years after becoming a permanent resident (three years if in a marital relationship with U.S. Citizen); at least one-half of this time must be spent physically in the US. The applicant must have lived for at least three months in the jurisdiction where the application will be filed.

The naturalization applicant must demonstrate good moral character and an attachment to the principles embodied in the US Constitution. Finally, they must possess basic English skills and a knowledge of the history and government of the US.

There are some groups of people who, even if they could demonstrate these requirements, are still not eligible to become citizens. These include people who have held certain ideological beliefs and people who have deserted the US military. While criminal offenses do not of themselves preclude a person from being naturalized, after 1996 people convicted of aggravated felonies are unable to show good moral character.

Benefits of Becoming a Citizen

The Right to Vote: A Fundamental Right of a U.S. Citizen

Being a citizen of the United States provides many privileges. Voting in elections is one such privilege. New citizens are expected to participate in elections and to adhere to the principles of tolerance and understanding towards differing points of view, which is the philosophical basis of the system of government of the United States.

A Chance to Reunite Families

Certain immigrants who because of their close relationship to U.S. Citizens are exempt from the numerical limitations imposed on immigration to the United States. Immediate relatives are: spouses of U.S. Citizens, children (under 21 years of age and unmarried) of U.S. Citizens, and parents of U.S. Citizens 21 years of age or older.

A Way to Protect your Children’s Right to Remain in the U.S.

Permanent resident children under the age of eighteen, who are in the lawful legal and physical custody of their naturalizing parent(s), automatically become U.S. Citizens when their parent(s) becomes naturalized.

Protection in Cases Involving Illegal Activity

In the event a Permanent Resident is ever accused of an illegal activity, they will remain within the authority of the USCIS and the Immigration Courts, and can be removed (or deported) for such activity. However, U.S. Citizens have the right to an attorney and a fair trial without the threat of being deported.

International Travel Made Easier

Permanent Residents can lose their status if they leave the country for 180 days or longer, and in the event of an extended absence, must obtain a re-entry permit. However, as a U.S. Citizen, you are not restricted on the amount of time you can spend outside of the U.S. and are not subject to obtaining a re-entry permit. Additionally, travel can be more convenient as many countries do not require Visas of U.S. Citizens.

Start Studying for Your Naturalization Test Today

Get Ready for the Naturalization Test Today. Contact Norris McLaughlin at (484) 544-0022 for a Free Consultation and for free copies of study materials.

Criminal History? Contact Norris McLaughlin Law Before You Apply.

Applying for naturalization is a difficult process alone. When complicated with the fact that you have a criminal conviction, one must stop and not apply for citizenship/naturalization, until an experienced Norris McLaughlin Attorney reviews your entire criminal history. Many immigrants who apply for naturalization or, simply, apply to replace their Lawful Permanent Resident Card (the “Green Card” or the “LPR”) do not recognize that their past could haunt them. If you have any type of criminal conviction, contact a Norris McLaughlin Deportation Defense Attorney today. Do not attempt to navigate the immigration system alone.

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