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Naturalization and Citizenship

Naturalization is the process by which U.S. 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). In most cases, an applicant for naturalization must be a permanent resident (green card holder) before filing.  Except for certain U.S. military members and their dependents, naturalization can only be granted in the United States.

A U.S. permanent resident (an individual with a 'green card') can obtain U.S. citizenship through the naturalization process. In order for a person to apply for naturalization, he or she must fulfill the following requirements:

  1. The individual must have resided in the U.S. as a permanent resident continuously for a five year period (or three years if the individual is married to and living with a U.S. citizen during the three year period).
  2. The individual must have been physically present within the U.S. for at least half of the five (or three) year period.
  3. The individual must be a person of 'good moral character.'
  4. The individual must be capable of reading, writing and speaking plain English (there is an exception for long-time, older residents).
  5. The individual must possess knowledge of U.S. government and history and be willing to express his or her allegiance to the U.S.
  6. The individual must be at least eighteen years old (except for those children of naturalization applicants who can acquire citizenship through their parents while still minors) and be legally competent to swear an oath of allegiance to the U.S.


This firm has assisted numerous clients in obtaining citizenship through the naturalization process. The process, while basically straightforward, has certain pitfalls that must be carefully avoided. There are certain bars to naturalization and an individual contemplating filing for naturalization may be best served by consulting with an attorney.


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




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