Orlando Citizenship & Naturalization Attorney
Helping Clients Pursue Their American Dream
There are many benefits to obtaining U.S. citizenship. It is a great privilege to be a citizen of this country for many reasons, including the right to vote, freedom of speech, and immunity from removal. There are a variety of ways to become a citizen of this country, and an attorney from our firm can help you through the process no matter what your situation involves.
Citizenship can be obtained and established through the following ways:
- Birth/Acquisition - If a child is born out of wedlock or either biological parent is an American citizen, then the child can obtain citizenship through acquisition. The child will receive a Consular Registration of Birth Abroad which acts as proof of citizenship, similar to the way a U.S. birth certificate would. This can be obtained even if the child was born outside of the U.S. If a child never received or lost this document from the U.S. consulate, then the individual must apply for a birth certificate or a certificate of citizenship to prove United States citizenship.
- Naturalization - If you fulfill the requirements, you may be eligible to apply for citizenship through naturalization.
- Derivation - You can also become a citizen if either your mother or father became naturalized prior to your 18th birthday.
There are not many factors that you will be able to control throughout the citizenship process. The ideal situation would be to become a derivative citizen or a citizen through acquisition, but there are also other ways to work through the process. At Brown Immigration Law, one of our attorneys will be able to help you navigate the process and help you determine which path to follow.
U.S. Naturalization Requirements
Requirements for naturalization include the following items.
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Reside continuously in the U.S. from the date of application to the time of naturalization
- Pass an English language test. People over 50 years old may can be exempted from the English requirement
- Be of good moral character and have not been convicted of certain types of criminal acts, particularly any felony or very serious misdemeanor offense
- Have an understanding of U.S. government and history. On the exam, 10 out of a possible 100 civics questions will be asked, and the applicant must answer 6 out of the 10 correctly. Those people over 65 applying for citizenship can be exempted from the history and government test.
The naturalization requirements may differ for certain applicants. For foreign national spouses of U.S. citizens, eligibility requirements for naturalization will require permanent residence for at least three years, during which the applicant was living in a marital union with a U.S. citizen spouse. U.S. immigration law also allows for easier naturalization eligibility requirements for military personnel.
There are certain exceptions to the requirements for naturalization. One of the modified requirements includes the English language exemption. The applicant can be exempt from the English language requirement if he or she is age 50 or older at the time of filing and has lived as a permanent resident for 20 years or is 55 years or older and has lived in the country as a permanent resident for 15 years. Modifications and exemptions are not issued for the history and government test unless you are age 65 or older.
When Can You Apply to be a U.S. Citizen?
While there is no rule when you must apply there is a requirement that you must fulfill US residency and physical presence requirements before applying. Normally, permanent residents must wait to apply for citizenship or naturalization until you have permanently resided and been physically present in the U.S. for at least five years. You should check your permanent resident (green card) to find the exact date you were approved as a permanent resident and make sure you wait the full five years to avoid any complications.
Conditional residents follow slightly different guidelines. In most cases, conditional means that you got your residence through a spouse or through an investor visa. The time you spent as a conditional resident counts as permanent residence.
When Should I Submit My Application?
Though you are required to wait until five years have passed, you are allowed to file your naturalization application within 90 days before the five-year date has arrived.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will not be able to adjudicate the application until you have fully met the resident requirements.
It is important to keep in mind that you may face longer time restrictions if you do not meet all the requirements. For example, you must have spent at least half of your required years in the U.S., not traveling back to your home country the entire time. You also must have spent more than a year outside of the U.S. among other requirements such as reading, writing, and speaking English.
What If I Am Married to a U.S. Citizen?
If you recently married and are living with a U.S. citizen, have been a permanent or conditional resident, and can provide proof that you qualify, you may apply for citizenship within just three years. You can still qualify for this even if you did not get your green card through marriage.
You must remain married to your spouse, who is a U.S. citizen, throughout the citizenship process to be eligible for the 3-year rule. If you separate or divorce or you choose to stop living with your spouse, even if your spouse dies prior to the interview, the three-year rule will no longer apply.
Proving United States Citizenship
There are two different ways a person born outside the United States to parents that are U.S. citizens, either through birth or naturalization, can prove their citizenship.
The two documents that can prove United States citizenship are:
- U.S. Passport: A passport will require a person to prove their parents' citizenship through their birth certificate or naturalization papers, work or tax records that show their parent's residency requirements, records that show the person has been living and working in the United States, and statements explaining why they did not access their citizenship rights before the age of five. These documents are required in addition to the standard proof of identity required to apply for a passport.
- Certificate of citizenship: If a person's parents were not born citizens of the United States but became naturalized as citizens, filing for a certificate of citizenship may be a better option. While this process can take longer than filing for a passport, the documents needed in this case may be easier to obtain. When filing for a certificate of citizenship you will need parents' birth records, marriage records, and naturalization certificates, as well as your own birth certificate and potential name change records.
Our lawyers - Erin Brown, Rishi Oza, Aleksandar Cuic, and founder Robert Brown - have the comprehensive ability to help you establish citizenship in the United States. With more than five decades of experience, we understand the immigration process and how it can affect the remainder of your life. This is a complex process, so you can benefit from getting the assistance of a lawyer from our firm. We can discuss your options with you and offer advice as to the most effective path to take.
At Brown Immigration Law, we are prepared to take action for you. Contact our firm for help with pursuing citizenship in the Orlando area.
Our Legal Team