U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization

If you are a Lawful Permanent Resident, Green card holder, you may be looking forward to the day when you can become a US citizen, and be secure in the fact that you can no longer be deported from the US.  Becoming a citizen also shortens the process of bringing your family members into the country, not only for your spouse and children, but also for members of your extended family.  To become a citizen, you will need to go through the naturalization process.

Naturalization: N-400

Lawful Permanent Residents who are people of good moral character can apply for US citizenship.  In most circumstances the applicant must have been a Lawful Permanent Resident for five years, have been physically present in the US for half that time, and be able to pass a civics test in English.  Our attorney can assist in documenting your eligibility as well as determining whether you qualify for an exception such as expedited naturalization, naturalization for senior citizens, or those unable to pass the citizenship exam.

Expedited 319(B) Naturalization for Spouses of Expatriate US Citizens

If you are a Lawful Permanent Resident and are married to a US citizen who is living and working abroad, you may be able to obtain your US citizenship without meeting the residency and time requirements.  Section 319 (b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act creates a process known as “expedited naturalization.”  You can even become a US citizen at the same time you get your lawful permanent residency.

In addition to being married to a US citizen, your spouse must be employed by one of these organizations:

  • the US Government
  • an American research institution recognized by the US Attorney General
  • an American company (or its subsidiary) engaged in foreign trade or commerce
  • a public international organization, such as the United Nations or its subsidiary
  • a bona fide US religious denomination

Furthermore, your spouse’s job assignment abroad must be for at least a year, and you must plan to reside in the United States once the assignment ends.

Naturalization under 319(b) requires coordination with the US consulate, USCIS, and the FBI. Hiring an attorney ensures that the process goes smoothly, allowing you to avoid multiple expensive and time consuming trips to the US.

Naturalization for the Disabled and Elderly

Although generally Lawful Permanent Residents must pass a civics test in English, there are a few exceptions to this rule.  If you are over 50 years old and have been a Lawful Permanent Resident for over 20 years, or over 55 years old and been a Lawful Permanent Resident for 15 years, you can take the civics test in your native language.  If you are over 65 years old and have been a Lawful Permanent Resident for over 20 years, you are allowed to take the test in your native language and in a much simplified version.  Those who are not old enough, don’t meet the residency requirement, or who are incapable of taking the civics test even in their native language can apply for a medical disability exception to both the civics test and the English proficiency requirements.  The medical disability exception requires that the applicant’s physician complete a form testifying to the person’s inability to learn.

Derivative and Acquired Citizenship: N-600 or DS-2029

Anyone born in the United States is a US citizen at birth, with very limited exceptions.  For those born outside of the US whose parents are US citizens at the time of their birth or become US citizens later on it can be much more complicated to determine whether the person is a US citizen and when they became one.  Gaining US citizenship in these instances is often automatic and doesn’t require any action on the child’s part, leaving people unaware of their status.  Getting the proper documentation of your citizenship is vital to prevent surprises in the future.  Imagine being a US citizen for years and not knowing it, or thinking that you are a US citizen only to find yourself facing removal when the government disagrees with you.

If either your parents or grandparents were US citizens at the time of your birth or before you turned 18, we’ll analyze your case to determine whether you are already a US citizen and help you get the appropriate documentation.