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Naturalization

Citizenship Through Naturalization

Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after fulfilling the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). There are several methods to obtain citizenship through naturalization as indicated below.

  • Green Card Holders that have been Lawful Permanent Residents for 5 years
  • Green card holders married to U.S. citizens
  • Green card holders in the military and their family
  • Citizenship through parents

Green Card Holders that have been Lawful Permanent Residents for 5 years:

  • Must have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years
  • Must be 18 or older
  • Must be a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the Form N-400 Application for Naturalization
  • Must have lived within the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing the application
  • Must have continuous residence in the United States as a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of the filing the application
  • Must be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
  • Must reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization up to the time of naturalization
  • Must be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (civics).
  • Must be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law

or

Green card holders married to U.S. citizens

  • Must be 18 or older
  • Must be a permanent resident (green card holder) for at least 3 years immediately preceding the date of filing Form N-400 Application for Naturalization
  • Must have been living in marital union with the U.S. citizen spouse, who has been a U.S. citizen during all of such period, during the 3 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application and up until examination on the application
  • Must have lived within the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing the application
  • Must have continuous residence in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for at least 3 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
  • Must reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization until the time of naturalization
  • Must be physically present in the United States for at least 18 months out of the 3 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
  • Must be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (also known as civics)
  • Must be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law

or

Qualifying Service in the U.S. Armed Forces

Special provisions of the INA authorize U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to expedite the application and naturalization process for current members of the U.S. armed forces and recently discharged members. Generally, qualifying military service includes service with one of the following branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, certain components of the National Guard and the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve. In addition, spouses of members of the U.S. armed forces who are or will be deployed may be eligible for expedited naturalization. Other provisions of the law also allow certain spouses to complete the naturalization process abroad. Qualifications include:

  • Must be a member of the U.S. armed forces must meet the requirements and qualifications to become a citizen of the United States. He or she must demonstrate:
  • Must have good moral character
  • Must have knowledge of the English language
  • Must have knowledge of U.S. government and history (civics), and
  • Must indicate attachment to the United States by taking an Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Constitution

It is important to note that qualified members of the U.S. armed forces are exempt from other naturalization requirements, including residence and physical presence in the United States. These exceptions are listed in Sections 328 and 329 of the INA. All aspects of the naturalization process, including applications, interviews and ceremonies are available overseas to members of the U.S. armed forces and certain “command-sponsored” spouses.

or

Biological or Adopted Children Residing in the United States
  • A child automatically becomes a U.S. citizen when all of the following conditions have been met under section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as amended by the Child Citizenship Act:
  • Must have at least one parent of the child is a U.S. citizen, whether by birth or naturalization.
  • The child must be under the age of 18 years.
  • The child must be residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent based on a lawful admission for permanent residence.
  • An adopted child may automatically become a citizen under section 320 of the INA if the child satisfies the requirements applicable to adopted children under sections 101(b)(1)(E), (F) or (G) of the INA.
Biological or Adopted Children Residing Outside the United States
  • Biological or adopted children who regularly reside outside of the United States may qualify for naturalization under section 322 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Child Citizenship Act (CCA). In general, to be eligible for citizenship under section 322 of the INA, a child must meet the following requirements:
  • Must have at least one parent is a U.S. citizen or, if deceased, the parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of death.
  • The U.S. citizen parent or his or her U.S. citizen parent has (or at the time of death had) been physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for at least 5 years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of 14.
  • The child must be under the age of 18 years.
  • The child must be residing outside of the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent (or, if the citizen parent is deceased, an individual who does not object to the application).
  • The child must be temporarily present in the United States after having entered lawfully and is maintaining lawful status in the United States.
  • An adopted child may be eligible for naturalization under section 322 of the INA if the child satisfies the requirements applicable to adopted children under sections 101(b)(1)(E), (F) or (G) of the INA.

English and Civics Requirements

To become a naturalized citizen, applicants must demonstrate an understanding to be able to read, write, and speak basic English. Applicants must also have a basic knowledge of U.S. history and government which is often referred to as “civics”. However, immigration laws provide limited exceptions to the English and civics requirements. These particular circumstances take into consideration the applicant’s certain age and time as a permanent resident; or disability. If an applicant meets one of the these exceptions he or she will be required to fulfill a limited or different English and Civics requirements

Applicant’s Age

There are three important exemptions for English testing based on an applicant’s age and time as a Permanent Resident:

(a) If an applicant is over 50 years old and has lived in the United States as a Permanent Resident for periods totaling at least 20 years, the applicant does not have to take the English test. The applicant will have to take the civics test in the language of choice.

(b) If an applicant is over 55 years old and has lived in the United States as a Permanent Resident for periods totaling at least 15 years, the applicant does not have to take the English test. The applicant will have to take the civics test in the language of choice.

(c) If an applicant is over 65 years old and has lived in the United States as a Permanent Resident for periods totaling at least 20 years, the applicant does not have to take the English test. The applicant does have to take the civics test in the language of choice. Designated test questions have been selected for the applicant to study and are identified within the list of 100 civics test questions. The list of questions can be found at www.uscis.gov

To qualify for one of the above exceptions, the time as a Permanent Resident does not have to be continuous. An applicant is eligible for the exemption as long as the total time residing in the United States (as a Permanent Resident) is at least 15 or 20 years. Time not as a Permanent Resident cannot be counted. All requirements for age and time as a permanent resident must be met at the time of filing the application not at the time of interview. An important point to remember is that an applicant that qualifies for an exemption of English testing based on age and time as a Permanent Resident, must be accompanied by an interpreter, who is proficient in English and the language of choice.

The Naturalization process can be a rewarding yet a confusing and frustrating experience. If you are seeking citizenship through naturalization it is important to have the right representation to assist you through process. There are a number of Houston immigration lawyers but not all of them are going to zealously represent you when your immigration status is on the line. The attorneys at Benavides & Serrano PLLC take pride in providing professional immigration representation to all clients. The strategies and tactics implemented are a direct reflection of the knowledge and understanding of each case. Contact the Houston immigration attorneys at Benavides & Serrano PLLC to secure the representation you deserve.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation 713-222-2828

Benavides & Serrano, PLLC
2180 North Loop West Suite 310
Houston, TX 77018
Phone 713-222-2828
Fax 713-222-2832

The Houston Immigration Lawyers at Benavides & Serrano, PLLC, in Houston, Texas, represent clients throughout the state of Texas, including:

Houston, Galveston, Angleton, Pearland, Alvin, Sugar Land, Clear Lake, Conroe, Pasadena, La Porte, Missouri City, Texas City, Friendswood, Richmond, Rosenberg, Corpus Christi, Brownsville, San Antonio, Laredo, Austin, San Marcos, Dallas, Denton, Plano, Lubbock, Midland, Anahuac, Beaumont, Hempstead, Huntsville, Liberty, The Woodlands, Humble, Tomball, League City, Bellaire, Deer Park, Kingsville, and Katy and other communities in Harris County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Galveston County, Chambers County, Liberty County, Jefferson County, Waller County, Kleberg County, Nueces County, and Walker County.