Naturalization is the way that a person not born in the United States voluntarily becomes a U.S. citizen. Are you thinking about applying for naturalization? Depending on your situation, different requirements may apply to you.
The first question you must ask yourself is am I eligible to apply or how can I become eligible?
1. Be at least 18 years of age. 2. Satisfy one of two requirements (A or B):
A. Have lived as a legal permanent resident in the United States for five years AND:
You must not have left the United States for any period longer than six months. Example: Hector has lived in the United States as a Legal Permanent Resident for seven years, but three years ago he took a business trip to Buenos Aires for eight months. Result: The five year period started all over again the day he returned and he must wait two more years to apply.
You must have been physically present in the United States for a total of at least 30 months. Example: Maria has been a Legal Permanent Resident for six years, but each year she has taken two four month trips out of the country. Result: She has been physically present in the United States for just four months a year, or 24 months total. She must remain here for another six months to apply.
B. Have lived as a legal permanent resident in the United States for three years AND:
Your spouse must have been a citizen for the three years.
You must have lived with your spouse for the last three years.
You must have not left the United States for any period longer than six months.
You must have been physically present here for a total of 18 months.
3. Be a person of good moral character. How does the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determine good moral character? It looks principally at criminal records and honesty in the application process. Certain crimes or offenses can lead to denial of your application. Examples:
Driving under the influence or alcohol or drugs (DUI or DWI)
Involvement with prostitution
Lying to gain immigration or prevent deportation or removal
Failing to pay court-ordered child support
Failing to complete any probation, parole or sentence before applying for naturalization
If you have been arrested or convicted of any crime, you must report it on your application - even if it has been removed from your record or if it occurred before your 18th birthday. You must also send certified copies of the arrest report, court disposition, sentencing and any other relevant documents. If you are not truthful on your application or during your interview, USCIS may deny your application. These offenses will not necessarily prevent you from becoming a citizen, but they may require you to hire a lawyer.
4. Demonstrate knowledge of history and government of the United States and be able to read, write and understand English. English: There are three important exemptions for English testing based on age and time as a legal permanent resident:
You are at least 50 years old and have been a permanent resident for at least 20 years.
You are at least 55 years old and have been a permanent resident for at least 15 years.
You are at least 65 years old and have been a permanent resident for at least 20 years.
5. You must correctly answer 6 out of 10 questions on the civics test in order to pass. You will be required to study from a list of 100 possible questions. However, if you are at least 65 and have been a legal permanent resident for at least 20 years, you can study from a designated list of just 20 questions. If you have certain medical conditions, you may not have to take either exam. A currently licensed medical professional must complete Form N-648 (Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions) if you believe you have a medical condition that warrants an exemption.
In partnership with Florida Immigrant Coalition, Citizenshipworks is a free online service that helps you apply for citizenship, step-by-step. You will be guided from start to finish. And tell you if need help from an expert.
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