Citizenship/Naturalization

++Note:  This is general information only.

There are several ways to gain citizenship in the United States of America: by birth, deriving citizenship through certain family members, or applying for US citizenship after becoming a legal permanent resident.

Legal Permanent Residents

Legal Permanent Residents may apply for United States Citizenship after a certain period of time.

Why apply for United States Citizenship?

  1.  Right to Vote
  2. Being able to leave the USA for more than 6 months a year
  3. Easier entry at the border
  4. Ability to travel to many countries that accept a US Passport
  5. Be able to apply for some family member and often with less of a wait time
  6. Avoid the threat of deportation and have additional security.

If I’m a Legal Permanent Resident, when may I apply for citizenship?

If you have been married to an United States Citizen and you have been living with your United States citizen spouse, then you may apply 3 years after being granted your legal permanent resident status (you may apply 90 days before the 3 year mark).  You must not be on probation, pay your taxes, pay any child support owed, and if you are male, registered for the selective service up until age 26.  (Note:  if you did not register for selective service and you were in the USA when you were 18-26, failing to file may be ok if you did not know to file and you are now 32 years old).  You must have lived in the USA at least 6 months of the year for the past 3 years before filing.

If you are not married to an United States Citizen, you may file for citizenship 5 years after being granted your legal permanent resident status (90 days before the 5 year mark is the earliest you may file).You must not be on probation, pay your taxes, pay any child support owed, and if you are male, registered for the selective service up until age 26.  (Note:  if you did not register for selective service and you were in the USA when you were 18-26, failing to file may be ok if you did not know to file and you are now 32 years old).  You must have lived in the USA at least 6 months of the year for the past 5 years before filing.

How do I file for Citizenship when I am a legal permanent resident?

File for citizenship on form N400.  The filing fee is $725 (that includes the $640 fee plus $85 for biometrics).  It is possible to get a reduced filing fee if you are low income, however, it can be difficult to get.  See forms at www.uscis.gov.  Make checks or money orders payable to US Department of Homeland Security.  Always make a copy of what you send to USCIS including the application, check/money order & envelope.  We recommend sending the application via certified mail or UPS or Fed Ex so you are able to track the application’s delivery.

Do I need to take a test?

Yes, the test is in English and consists of 3 parts:  Knowledge, reading a sentence in English, and writing a sentence in English.  You may find information about the test at www.uscis.gov.

May I take the test in my native language?

You may take the test in your native language if you are 50 or older and have had your legal permanent status for at least 20 years.  You must bring a bilingual translator to your interview.

You may take the test in your native language if you are 55 or older and have had your legal permanent status for at least 15 years.  You must bring a bilingual translator to your interview.

May I skip the citizenship test?

You may be eligible to skip the citizenship test if you obtain a medical waiver signed by your doctor on form N648.  We typically see this for a brain disorder, learning disorder, or in aged clients (for dementia).  There must be a medical reason as to why you cannot take the test and/or learn English. (Note: we have had clients granted citizenship by having a family member stand in with them when they were severely impacted by dementia).

Caution

Having certain criminal convictions, USCIS finding prior orders of removal, smuggling, answering certain questions yes on the application could result in being put into deportation proceedings and having your application denied.  We strongly advise seeking advice from an experienced immigration attorney before filing your application.