Naturalization

NaturalizationNaturalization is the process by which a foreign citizen becomes a United States citizen after fulfilling the requirements established by Congress. Naturalization is the end of the immigration process and affords the same benefits, protections, and status as a person who was born a United States citizen.

In the words of the United States Citizenship and Naturalization Services, citizenship is a benefit and is not a right. A person applying for Naturalization must keep this in mind as they present evidence to demonstrate that they should be granted that benefit. Although the government does not require any specific evidence, an application should include evidence that demonstrates that there is no automatic bar to citizenship and that the person possesses good moral character.

MyRights Immigration Law Firm has helped hundreds of people apply and be approved for Naturalization. Please schedule an appointment to discuss your individual case with one of our immigration attorneys.

The requirements for Naturalization are established under INA title III chapter 2; to qualify a person must:

  1. Have been a lawful permanent resident for a period of at least 5 years (or three years if filing as a spouse of a United States Citizen);

  2. Have maintained continuous residence in the United States during the requisite time period (over half of the time inside of the United States and generally no trips outside of the united states for over 180 days);

  3. Be able to read, write, and speak basic English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government; and

  4. Be a person of good moral character and attached to the principles of the Constitution.

In addition to the permanent bars to good moral character, the INA and corresponding regulations include bars to finding good moral character that are not permanent in nature. USCIS refers to these bars as conditional bars. These bars may prevent naturalization if the officer finds that because of them the applicant lacks the good moral character required under INA 316.

us-flagThe conditional bars to establishing good moral character include (See INA 101(f) and 8 CFR 316.10):

  1. One or more crime involving moral turpitude

  2. Two or more offenses with combined sentence of five or more years

  3. Controlled substance violations

  4. Incarceration for more than 180 days

  5. False testimony under oath

  6. Prostitution offenses

  7. Smuggling of a person

  8. Polygamy

  9. Gambling offenses

  10. Habitual drunkard

  11. Willful failure to support dependents

  12. Extramarital affair

  13. Unlawful acts that adversely reflect upon good moral character

An experienced immigration attorney should be consulted prior to initiating an application for citizenship, because the application process can lead to an investigation of the circumstance by which the person was granted lawful permanent residence. If the government has reason to believe that residence was granted by mistake or fraud the naturalization application will be denied and removal proceedings may be initiated.

naturalization-certificateAdditional Resources

USCIS Citizenship Page

Form N-400

Citizenship Resource Center